UEFA blocks Sheriff hosting European games in Transnistria

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — The football fallout from Russia’s war with Ukraine saw UEFA blocking Sheriff Tiraspol on Friday from hosting competitive European matches in his home region of Moldova.

Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk played Champions League games last season at Transnistria’s tiny Sheriff Stadium on the border with Ukraine.

But the club which has strong commercial and political ties with Russia will not be able to welcome the Bosnian champion Zrinjski at home on July 13 for a second leg of the first qualifying round of the next Champions League.

“In light of the large-scale military escalation resulting from the invasion of Ukrainian territory by the Russian army, the UEFA Executive Committee today decided that no UEFA competitive matches will be played in the Transnistria region of Moldova until further notice,” the European football body said.

Tiraspol is also about 90 kilometers (55 miles) from the Ukrainian city of Odessa, which is a regular target for Russian missiles.

“The decision is based on considerations and conclusions constantly drawn by agencies specializing in international political and strategic analysis,” UEFA said.

Sheriff, who has won the Moldovan league in 20 of the last 22 seasons, could opt to play matches in the nation’s capital, Chisinau.

If Sheriff eliminates Zrinjski, the next opponent in July will be Belarusian Shakhtyor Soligorsk or Slovenian champion Maribor.

Shakhtyor plays its home matches in neutral Turkey due to a separate UEFA ruling in March that national and club teams in Russia’s military ally Belarus cannot stage matches in the European competitions.

The loser between Sheriff and Zrinjski continues to play in the third-tier Europa Conference League qualifying rounds.

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