Andriy Yarmolenko, the Ukraine captain, has called for Russia to be “totally isolated” from all professional sport as news emerged that the country will be excluded from qualification for Euro 2024.
Russia has been banned from Uefa and Fifa competitions since the invasion of Ukraine began in February. With the Euro 2024 qualifying draw scheduled for 9 October, organisers will not include Russia. Yarmolenko, speaking in Glasgow before Ukraine’s Nations League meeting with Scotland on Wednesday, endorsed Uefa’s stance and called on other sports to follow the example.
“My thoughts are quite simple,” the former West Ham player said. “Russian football, Russian sport should be totally isolated. This is a country of terrorists, a country that kills Ukrainians, that kills Ukrainian children. We cannot just talk about sport when something like that is happening. All the Ukrainian players want Russia to be isolated on every level.
“We cannot allow Russia to take part in any competition whilst its army are killing the civilian population in Ukraine. The stand of the Ukrainian team is unified; Russia should be banned from everything.”
Oleksandr Petrakov, the Ukraine head coach, admitted he has been fined by European football’s governing body after expressing a desire to take up arms against Russia. Petrakov said he was unaware of the size of the monetary penalty and appeared perfectly at ease with the situation.
Asked about the Football Union of Russia’s desire to have him banned, Petrakov was similarly relaxed: “I will say again whatever I said before,” the 65-year-old coach said. “This is clearly the Russian football federation and their legal team. Whatever they are doing is their business. I am standing by my words.”
When Ukraine visited Scotland in June, Petrakov’s team progressed to a World Cup playoff final, which they lost, against Wales. Steve Clarke, the Scotland manager, has now conceded circumstances around that delayed fixture made it difficult for his players. Ukraine were understandably the recipients of global support.
“The last game was a really unique situation where nobody sort of knew what to expect,” Clarke said. “Everybody says how good Ukraine are, they are a really good side. I don’t think they caught us cold but it was a unique game. It was a game that didn’t suit us, it suited them. We didn’t play as well as we can play. The only thing we can do to address that is play better this time. And if we play better this time and Ukraine play their level then let’s see what the outcome is.”