Ukraine national team manager Oleksandr Petrakov has been fined and warned by UEFA for discriminating against Russia after he expressed a willingness to take up arms and fight Vladimir Putin’s invading armies.
Petrakov, 65, told the Guardian back in April that ‘if they come to Kyiv , I will pick up a weapon and defend my city’, adding ‘I think I could take two or three enemies out.’
It led to the Russian Football Union writing to UEFA accusing Petrakov of discriminating against their country and failing to remain politically neutral, calling on him to be banned.
But in a Facebook post, the head of the Ukrainian Football Association, Andrii Pavelko, wrote that UEFA simply warned Petrakov and issued a small fine, which the organisation paid on his behalf.
He accused Russia of ‘distraction tactics’ on the eve of Ukraine’s important UEFA Nations League fixture against Scotland on Wednesday evening.
Russia has failed in its efforts to get the Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov banned for ‘discrimination’ after the 65-year-old pledged to take up arms against Vladimir Putin’s armies
Petrakov said in an interview shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February that he would fight to defend the city of Kyiv – pictured is the funeral of military servicemen in the city
Ukrainian FA president Andriy Pavelko said UEFA issued Petrakov with a fine and a warning
Ukraine also play away to Armenia on Saturday and Scotland again next Tuesday, on neutral territory in the Polish city of Krakow, as they attempt to secure promotion into League A of the competition.
It came as UEFA is expected to confirm the Russian team will be banned from Euro 2024 with the conflict in Ukraine still ongoing almost seven months after Putin’s military first invaded.
In a Facebook post, the Ukrainian FA chief Andrii Pavelko said UEFA only warned and fined Petrakov for his comments
‘The Russian hysterics about the head coach of the national team of Ukraine, Oleksandr Petrakov, is not worth the slightest attention because their ill-mannered complaint has long been considered by UEFA,’ Pavelko wrote.
‘Of course, there is no ban and could not have been. There was a warning and a minor fine that the Ukrainian Football Association had the honour of paying.
‘So in vain the Russian are trying now – on the eve of an important match for the Ukrainian national team – to distract our preparations.
‘Everyone is as focused as possible on this and preparing to support our boys.
‘P.S. At the same time, the Russian have nothing to prepare for. As demanded, Russia will not be in the Euro 2024 qualifying draw in Frankfurt, Germany on October 9 and until at least 2024 will not be in official international football competitions.
‘Euro 2024 will pass without an aggressor country! Glory to Ukraine!’
As reported by The Guardian, the FUR deputy secretary general Denis Rogachev accused Petrakov of breaching codes of conduct by calling for Russia to be banned from international sport.
Russia was accused of distraction tactics with Ukraine set to play Scotland on Wednesday
Ukraine won at Hampden Park back in June as they attempted to qualify for the World Cup
Ukraine narrowly missed out on a place at the World Cup, losing to Wales in a play-off
Petrakov did attempt to join Ukraine’s territorial defence forces when Russia invaded the country back in February but was advised against it because of his age and lack of military experience.
He conducted himself with immense dignity when Ukraine participated in play-off for the Qatar World Cup back in June. They defeated Scotland but saw their hopes of qualification ended by Wales.
Rogachev’s letter to UEFA made no reference to his country’s invasion of Ukraine nor the thousands of civilians and military personnel who have died during the conflict.
‘The statements by the head coach of the Ukrainian representative football team, Oleksandr Petrakov, are made against the background of the political conflict between the two countries – Russia and Ukraine – and represents a political message which obviously violates the fundamental principle of political neutrality,’ he wrote.
Russia’s letter to UEFA made no mention of the immense devastation caused by their country’s invasion of Ukraine, nor the thousands who have died. Pictured is damage in Kharkiv
‘Moreover, the head coaches behavior can be regarded as involvement on [sic] promoting public hatred on a national basis and the use of football to assert political views.’
It goes on to claim Petrakov effectively made a ‘call for violence’ and was ‘discriminatory on a national basis’.
The Russian national team and Russian clubs have been suspended from all competitions by both UEFA and FIFA.
A Ukrainian unit ride tanks as they take back territory taken by Russia earlier in the conflict
In response, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Football Association told The Guardian: ‘When his country was attacked by invading inhumans, [Petrakov] was ready to defend his land, his women and children.
‘He was not accepted into the army due to his lack of military experience, but his step is a testament to his devotion to the country and patriotism.
‘What kind of discrimination can we talk about in relation to a nation that deliberately commits genocide against another nation?’
Petrakov managed various Ukraine youth teams for a decade before being installed as national team manager in August 2021.