The escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine off the coast of Crimea have spilled over into football with UEFA deciding to relocate Arsenal’s Europa League tie against FC Vorskla Poltava on Thursday to Kiev following the introduction of martial law in some parts of Ukraine.
The game will now take place 200 miles away at the Olympic Stadium, which hosted the Champions League final last year, due to “security concerns”.
Arsenal released a statement shortly after the announcement on Tuesday evening, which said they are working with UEFA and the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of their fans attending the game.
Ukraine’s parliament voted to introduce 30 days of martial law across 10 of its regions after Russia captured three of its naval vessels and 23 crew members on Sunday. Although Poltava was not one of them, UEFA have erred on the side of caution due to Poltava’s position in the east and proximity to areas of heightened tension
“UEFA’s Emergency Panel has today [Tuesday] taken the decision to relocate FC Vorskla’s UEFA Europa League group stage match against Arsenal FC from the city of Poltava, following the introduction of martial law into certain regions in Ukraine,” a statement said.
“The match will now take place at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kyiv on Thursday 29 November at 18.55CET [4.55pm GMT]. UEFA will continue to monitor and assess the security situation in Ukraine in the coming days before making any decision on potentially relocating other matches.”
UEFA originally stated that the match would go ahead unaffected but their u-turn could affect many travelling supporters in terms of flights and accommodation.
Martial law gives Ukrainian authorities the power to mobilise citizens with military experience, regulate the media and restrict public rallies in affected areas.