By Nick Butler

UEFA have announced that teams from Ukraine and Russia will be barred from facing each other due to the ongoing political tension ©UEFANo Ukrainian or Russian teams will be permitted to face each other in European club football competitions until further notice in a reflection of the ongoing political tension between the two countries, a UEFA Emergency Panel has warned. 


This decision has been made "in light of the current political situation" and follows concerns expressed over the safety and security of players and fans by both the Russian Football Union and the Football Federation of Ukraine.

It will mean FC Zenit and FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, the respective runners-up in the most recent Russian and Ukrainian Premier League campaigns, will be prevented from being pitted together when the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round draw is made tomorrow.

As well as providing definitive proof of the age-old question of whether political contexts can impact sporting events, the decision also marks an interesting contrast from occasions earlier this year when athletes from the two countries competed together.

This was particularly seen at the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, where Ukrainian Paralympic Committee President Valeriy Sushkevych even claimed the Games had helped prevent further Russian intervention in his country.

Despite Russia intervening in the Crimean Peninsular in the week immediately before the Games, Ukrainian athletes chose to compete, and promptly came fourth in the medals table, with five gold, nine silver and 11 bronze.

The country also won one gold at the Sochi 2014 Olympics the previous month, courtesy of Vita Semerenko, Juliya Dzhyma, Valj Semerenko and Olena Pidhrushna in the women's biathlon team relay.

A Ukrainian biathlon quartet won gold at Sochi 2014 in a race in which Russia finished second ©AFP/Getty ImagesA Ukrainian biathlon quartet won gold at Sochi 2014 in a race in which Russia finished second ©AFP/Getty Images

This gold medal was credited as helping to unite the country in the midst of the crisis. 

With the potential for violence in football crowds far greater than at most other events, it can be assumed that the UEFA Panel found that the risk of matches inspiring further conflict outweighed the possible benefits. 

But, based on an "updated assessment of the security situation in Ukraine", the Panel has decided that UEFA matches can continue to be played in the eastern cities of Dnipropetrovsk and Odesa, where pro-Russian separatist movements remain active, as well as in the less volatile cities of Kiev and Lviv.

This will permit FC Dnipro and FC Chornomorets Odesa to enter the third qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League respectively.

Due to the recent revival of tension in Israel in recent weeks, however, the Panel also decided that no UEFA matches may be played in the country until further notice.

The four Israeli club sides this affects - Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Tel Aviv - have been consequently asked to propose alternative venues outside of Israeli territory for home legs in European competitions. 

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