Ukraine calls for spectator ban at football matches
07 May 2014, 13:28
Kiev - The Ukrainian government on Wednesday called for remaining football championship matches to be played behind closed doors because of the risk of troubles.
The call by the interior ministry follows clashes between supporters of a united Ukraine and pro-Russian groups at recent matches.
"Today the situation in the country is extremely unfavourable for staging football matches," the interior ministry stated in a letter to the Ukraine Football Federation.
Mounting rivalry between pro-Russian groups and supporters of Ukraine's central government have threatened to tip the country into civil war.
The ministry said the football federation should consider moving matches away from the tense southeast of the country to other regions.
"The incidents that happened ahead and during the league matches on April 27 at Kharkiv and on May 2 in Odessa clearly proved" the risk of troubles, said the letter.
Dozens were injured in the fighting around the two games.
"We request the Ukraine's Football Federation and the country's professional football league to stage the remaining league matches in the daytime of working days and behind closed doors.
"The ministry respects the intention of Ukraine's football community to maintain the integrity of the national football championship. However, we ask the league matches organisers and the country's football lovers to show their understanding of these urgent measures."
Ukrainian football chiefs have already switched several league matches and the national cup final, which was scheduled to be played at Kharkiv, to other venues.
"I received information that there would be bloodshed at the cup final if it was played in Kharkiv," Sports Minister Dmitry Bulatov was quoted as saying by media.