Russia comments on new ‘Commonwealth’ football league

The competition will feature teams from Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as South Ossetia and Abkhazia

The creation of a football league including teams from the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as from South Ossetia, Abkhazia and elsewhere, is a step in the right direction according to Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin.

The formation of the ‘Commonwealth League’ was announced on Wednesday. The tournament will also feature teams from Crimea and the regions of Kherson, Kharkov and Zaporozhye, and is set to run from March to November of 2023 with at least a dozen clubs participating.

According to Match TV, the founder of the non-profit organization responsible for holding the championship will be the Russian Sports Ministry. 


Football league created to include Crimea, Donetsk & Lugansk clubs

“The task is to create the most comfortable conditions for the popularization of football and to involve the DPR, LPR, Kherson, Kharkov and Zaporozhye regions, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia into the orbit of sports activities,” Matytsin told Match TV.

“I think it’s right. Sport has no boundaries. Sport has one ideology and mission – to make people healthy, without politicization and discrimination, to give them the opportunity to develop, to represent a single sports community,” added the Russian sports minister.

The news comes as the Russian football authorities continue to look at the integration of Crimean teams into Russian football. It was announced this week that a working group has been established by the Russian Football National League (FNL) which will visit the peninsula in the near future to consider the readiness of clubs to enter Russian competitions.

Despite Crimea rejoining Russia in a landslide 2014 referendum, the region’s football teams continue to compete under the banner of the Crimean Football Union.


Fresh steps towards Crimean football integration in Russia

The organization has “special status” although UEFA repeated this week that it remains opposed to Crimean teams being integrated into Russian football.

Russia’s FNL has said that a final decision on the inclusion of the Crimean clubs would be made by the Russian Football Union (RFU) after consultation with the Sports Ministry.

Newly-appointed Russian Premier League (RPL) president Aleksandr Alaev said earlier this month that it is “inevitable” that Crimean teams would fully join the Russian football family.  

Elsewhere, Russian former FIFA vice-president Vyacheslav Koloskov has urged the football authorities in his homeland to negotiate the matter with FIFA and UEFA, but failing any progress, “radical decisions” may be required.      

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