Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press
Arsenal’s UEFA Europa League match against Vorskla Poltava on Thursday will go ahead as planned in Kiev after being moved from Poltava because of security concerns.
Vorskla’s vice-president Oleg Lisak previously suggested his club could refuse to play, per BBC Sport. But as shared by the BBC’s Jonah Fischer, those fears have been put to bed:
Jonah Fisher @JonahFisherBBC
CONFIRMED: Football officials in Ukraine have confirmed to the BBC that tonight’s match between Arsenal and Vorskla Poltava in Kiev/Kyiv is definitely on. It was moved from Poltava over security fears.
As reported by Seven Sport (h/t Goal’s Jamie Smith) Vorskla did not agree with UEFA’s decision to move the fixture to the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, which hosted last season’s UEFA Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid. President Roman Cherynak complained of a lack of communication and didn’t think the new venue would be ready in time.
UEFA moved the game after the Ukrainian government imposed martial law in regions of the nation that border Russia on Tuesday, meaning “authorities can ban protests and strikes, and citizens could be called up for military duty,” per BBC News.
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia have risen after the Russian coastguard attacked three Ukrainian ships for allegedly entering Russian waters illegally on Sunday, wounding several sailors.
Poltava is not one of the areas now under martial law, but the safety concerns have given the home side a lengthy journey for the game, per Rob Harris of the AP:
Rob Harris @RobHarris
Appears to be one fast 3.5hr train that can be taken between Poltava and Kiev on Thursday. Problematic for anyone with flights returning directly from the original site of Arsenal’s game https://t.co/68w13KUvOE
The Gunners have already secured their spot in the knockout stages of the tournament and lead Group E after four matchdays. Having secured three wins and a draw, they can wrap up top spot with a win on Thursday or in their final match against Qarabag.
Arsenal beat the Ukrainians 4-2 in their first match of the Europa League campaign, cruising from start to finish.
Vorskla and Qarabag both sit four points behind Sporting and are not expected to threaten the Portuguese side. They have both lost their two home matches so far.
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