Unless someone has been away from the television or social media for an extended time, they know the dire situation in Ukraine right now. As a result, the United States and Ukraine Soccer Federations moved the Mar. 5 friendly to Cyprus last week. However, now due to the continued situation occurring in Ukraine, the USA-Ukraine friendly has been reportedly cancelled. This is due to Ukraine’s reported unwillingness to leave the country amidst political unrest and turmoil.
Earlier this week, Ukraine’s Premier League postponed matches after Russia moved military into Ukraine’s autonomous region of Crimea. On Monday, Ukraine football federation president Anatoliy Konkov released a statement. Translation courtesy of Reuters.
“We cannot hold the national championship so what kind of football can we talk of at all? If we do not have an opportunity to play on home soil, why shall we go to Cyprus in those troubled times for your country? We play for our people and country. Our team does not fly to Cyprus and stay at home,” Konkov told the ICTV channel.
Konkov’s comments should resonate with every Ukrainian and American. Ultimately, sport as a whole should unite a nation together, and I totally understand why the team does not want to leave with the situation going on in their homeland.
For the United States Men’s National Team, there are now many questions up in the air. Do they continue to train in Germany? Does Jurgen Klinsmann release the players back to their club teams earlier than expected? Or does Klinsmann have a trick up his sleeve and secure a friendly with another international team?
Nonetheless, should the rumors turn out to be true, this was the right move by Ukraine. The wrong message would have been sent if they left the country to play a soccer game. The Ukrainian people will value and respect Konkov and the soccer players more knowing they aren’t ducking out when the country is in shambles and basically in a revolution while Russia looks ready to intervene.
Overall, Ukraine had little choice but to cancel this friendly. Now the United States has some questions to ask and some decisions to make as the 2014 World Cup is only 100 days away.
Add Phil Naegely to your Google Circles and follow him on Twitter @PNaegelyRS.