Ukrainian Premier League terminated

Ukrainian Premier League terminated
A fan holds a "Stop Putin" banner during a match for peace and the end of war in Ukraine between Borussia Dortmund and Dynamo Kyiv at Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany

The Ukrainian Premier League (UPL) season has been terminated and the title will not be awarded due to continuing martial law in the country, the league said.

No organised football matches have been played since Russia invaded Ukraine in February in what Moscow calls a “special military operation’.

The last round of fixtures were played in December before the league went on a three-month winter break.

Shakhtar Donetsk were top of the league table then with 47 points from 18 games, two points ahead of Dynamo Kyiv.

Some sides have played friendlies during the hiatus to raise funds for victims of the war.

“The football clubs of the Ukrainian Premier League supported the proposal to terminate the 2021/2022 season… since the championship cannot be completed due to the extension of martial law status in Ukraine,” the UPL said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The standings as of Feb. 24 will be the final standings of the 2021/2022 season, with no winners to be awarded.

“The corresponding decision was submitted for approval by the executive committee of the Ukrainian Association of Football.”

The top two teams earn qualification for the UEFA Champions League.

The Ukraine national side has a strong presence of players from the country’s top division.

Such stars will now turn their attentions to the crucial but delayed 2022 FIFA World Cup play-off against Scotland in June.

The clash with Scotland was rearranged for June 1 after the game was pushed back due to the conflict with Russia.

Winners of the tie will then play Wales in the final in Cardiff four days later on June 5 after UEFA finalised the fixture schedule.

Already, special permission has been granted to Ukraine’s footballing elite to leave the country for overseas friendlies.

Oleg Protasov, First Vice-President of the Ukrainian FA, said the their national team were gearing up for a Hampden semi-final against Scotland in June.

He disclosed they would therefore four days earlier face France and North Macedonia in friendlies.

“Now we are looking for good training camps and sparring partners,’ said Protasov. “We really believe that we should not just play, but win the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, and we need to prepare well.

“Our guys are in good shape and from our side, we need to give them the opportunity to stay in this shape.

“Now we are in the process of negotiations with some countries for training camps and holding matches with France and North Macedonia. But we will tell you more about this a little later.”

One of Ukraine, Scotland and Wales have been drawn alongside England, Iran and the U.S. in a group at the Qatar World Cup which begins in November.