Ukraine suspends major national sports league
The Ukrainian Premier League has been suspended amid escalating tensions with Russia
The Ukrainian Premier League will be suspended for at least 30 days, it has been announced, after President Volodymyr Zelensky declared martial law in the country.
Ukraine’s elite football league had been scheduled to resume activity on Friday after the conclusion of its winter break, but confirmed in a message on its official website on Thursday that this will no longer be happening in the wake of the Zelensky’s martial declaration.
The development also brings into doubt Scotland’s proposed World Cup qualifier against Ukraine scheduled to take place in Glasgow on March 24.
Elsewhere, it has been speculated that St. Petersburg will be removed as the host of this season’s Champions League Final on May 28, although Russian officials have said no discussions on the matter have taken place.
This comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a special operation to defend the newly recognized breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in Donbass.
Putin said the aim was ‘de-militarizing’ and ‘de-nazifying’ the country, but adding that Russia did not intend to occupy Ukraine.
Mircea Lucescu, the Romanian head coach of Dynamo Kiev, meanwhile, has announced that he will remain in the Ukrainian capital throughout the conflict and that he is not a “coward” who will return to his home country.
“All sporting activity in Ukraine was suspended for 30 days,” the 76-year-old former coach of Zenit St. Petersburg said.
“I will not leave Kiev to return to Romania, I’m not a coward.
“I hope these big people with no brains will stop this war. I never thought this was possible.”
Lucescu’s Dynamo Kiev are currently top of the standings in the Ukrainian Premier League, some 11 points clear of rivals Shakhtar Donetsk after 26 games played.