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Arsenal’s UEFA Europa League game away to Vorskla Poltava on Thursday is in doubt, according to the Ukrainian Premier League club’s vice president Oleg Lisak.
He offered “no guarantee” Vorskla would participate in the Group E match, per BBC Sport, amid concerns about security. Rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine have led to UEFA moving the game to the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev.
Vorskla had been trying to host the match at their regular venue, the Oleksiy Butovsky Vorskla Stadium. However, European football’s governing body initiated the change after martial law was implemented in part of the country.
UEFA said it “regrets the inconvenience the relocation of this match has caused to supporters and FC Vorskla.” Meanwhile, a “short timescale available to evaluate all existing risks” was also cited as a reason to take precautions with the venue.
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The decision has left Vorskla president Roman Cherynak annoyed. He told Seven Sport (h/t Goal’s Jamie Smith) the game still may not go ahead, despite UEFA’s changes: “We’re all shocked. Nobody has asked us anything, no one has informed us. Moreover, the Olimpiyskiy Stadium is not ready for the organisational point of view.”
Per BBC News, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko proposed enforcing martial law in regions along the border with Russia for 30 days after clashes with the Russian coastguard. The engagements led to three Ukrainian vessels and 23 sailors being captured, as well as accusations of encroachment on Russian territorial waters.
Ukraine has classified Russia’s actions as an “act of aggression.”
UEFA is keeping an eye on this developing situation, but as things stand, Arsenal will play the penultimate game of their group fixtures at the originally scheduled kick-off time of 5:55 p.m. GMT/12:55 p.m. ET.
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The Gunners have secured qualification from the group after drawing 0-0 with Sporting CP last time out. They can guarantee top spot with a win in Kiev and increase the chance of a softer draw for the Round of 32.
Head coach Unai Emery, who won this trophy three seasons in a row with Sevilla, saw Arsenal begin the campaign with a 4-2 victory over Vorskla back in September.
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