Saturday, 23 June 2007

UEFA’s cowardly, ‘politically correct’ decision: Euro 2008 Armenia vs Azerbaijan matches cancelled

Reuters just reported that UEFA decided to cancel two Euro 2008 Group A matches between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with both countries losing the six qualifying points available. As Reuters rightly pointed out, "Armenia wanted the games played on a normal home and away basis but Azerbaijan refused to play host to the Armenians and proposed a neutral ground for both encounters."

Why should Armenia suffer from Azerbaijan’s inability to follow UEFA rules? I wish there is a way for Armenia to protest this decision. UEFA is perfectly aware of Karabakh conflict and they either should have put Armenia and Azerbaijan in different groups from the beginning (regardless of the draw) or reinforce their rules, if no other compromise is possible.

But hey, we are living in increasingly ‘politically correct’ world…


artmika said...

In its reflection to UEFA decision, reminded that "security concerns have always dogged matches between Armenian and Azeri teams on the football ground". Here are two particular examples:

- In January 2006 Armenia’s champion Pyunik refused to play Baku’s Neftchi in the semi-final of the Commonwealth of Independent States Cup in Moscow to forestall possible clashes in the stands between Armenians and Azeris, who are known to have large ethnic communities in the Russian capital. The walkout of the Armenian team cost it dearly, as it was disqualified from the tournament and banned from participating in it for good.

[I think Armenia's Pyunk disqualification was justified at that time and that's exactly how UEFA should have reacted, in this case, in relation to Azerbaijan's refusal to host or play in Armenia]

- Last fall, an Armenia v Azerbaijan match in the Under-19 European championship qualifying group tournament in Cyprus turned violent after some of the partisan Armenian Cypriot crowd overreacted to unsportsmanlike behavior, obscene gestures and constant provocations by several Azeri players and climbed the protective fence to step onto the pitch. Play stopped for half an hour and resumed only after police intervention.

In the meantime, according to A1+, Armenian FA will most probably challenge the UEFA decision and may take the case to The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

artmika said...

Ruben Hayrapetyan, President of Armenian FA, today made a statement that although "we were deprived of the best opportunity to observe the game of our national team, which is strengthening day by day", he "accepts" the UEFA decision and will not appeal. (a1+)
Basically, he accepted 'defeat' and Armenia's FA inability to stand up for its rights. Still, I think that UEFA's decision was completely unsporty, totally influenced by politics, and creates bad precedents for future of the game and reputation of the organisation.