UEFA ‘no’ to games in Armenia, Azerbaijan



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No games in Azerbaijan and Armenia Image: UEFA

In a recent decision, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has stopped Armenia and Azerbaijan from staging football fixtures in their respective territories due to the ‘boots on the ground’ situation – unceasing military clashes between the two nations in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. European football’s governing body has temporarily suspended the home games in both countries.

UEFA has canceled the upcoming Europa League and Nations League games in Azerbaijan and Armenia until further notice due to the political conflict, but Baku is set to remain a Euro venue in 2021. UEFA has announced that there will be no continental games in Azerbaijan and Armenia for the time being.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a decades-old conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan but occupied by Armenia. The ongoing hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan broke out on September 27th after Armenia’s forces shelled heavily Azerbaijan’s military positions and civilian settlements.

A statement published on UEFA’s website reads, “Considering the tense security situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the UEFA Executive Committee has decided that UEFA club and national team competition matches will not take place in Armenia and Azerbaijan until further notice.”

“After having carefully monitored the evolution of the situation which broke out late September – which has already led to the relocation of a UEFA Europa League play-off and two UEFA Nations League matches to neutral venues – UEFA is of the opinion that, at the present time, the conditions to stage UEFA matches in these countries are not met,” the statement added.

UEFA will ask the Football Federation of Armenia and the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan, including their respective clubs, to submit alternative venues for their next UEFA competition home games.

UEFA maintained that the situation in the region will be monitored and the recent prohibition does not address ongoing planning for taking in suspended UEFA Euro 2020 matches in Baku (capital of Azerbaijan) in June next year.

Three group-stage games featuring Switzerland, Turkey and Wales (UK), and a quarterfinal match will be played in Baku’s 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium in June and July, respectively. Azerbaijan is one of the 12 host nations for the major European soccer spectacle that was postponed to 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak which continues to wreak havoc the world over.

Moreover, the national teams of both Azerbaijan and Armenia will have to hunt for neutral venues for their UEFA Nations League home games with Montenegro and Georgia, respectively, in November.

Earlier, the national teams’ (read Azerbaijan and Armenia) home games in the Nations League were played in neutral Poland (Tychy) and Albania (Elbasan).

For security reasons since 2007, UEFA has separated national and club teams from Armenia and Azerbaijan in its tournament draws.

The UEFA Nations League is a biennial international football competition contested by the senior men’s national teams of the member associations of UEFA, the sport’s European governing body. The first tournament began in September 2018, following the 2018 FIFA World Cup™.

The UEFA Europa League is an annual football club competition organized by UEFA since 1971 for eligible European football clubs. Clubs qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national leagues and cup competitions.

The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as UEFA Euro 2020 or simply Euro 2020, is scheduled to be the 16th UEFA European Championship, the quadrennial international men’s football championship of Europe organized by the Union of European Football Associations. It is scheduled to be held from June 11th to July 11th, 2021.

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