Oleh Protasov: Under the current conditions, to organize the another team's arrival in one day is an unrealistic task. It takes at least 48 hours
Oleh Protasov, First Vice-President of the Ukrainian Association of Football, commented on the situation surrounding the cancellation of the UEFA Nations League XNUMX round game Switzerland-Ukraine.
— What stage is the consideration of the case on the canceled match Switzerland - Ukraine now at?
- The UEFA Appeals Committee has requested from the UAF all documents related to this case. The deadline was originally set for the morning of November 20, but now UEFA has changed the deadline. All interested parties must submit their documents by the morning of Monday, November 23.
— Do you think that this decision was influenced by the fact that after returning to Boryspil, all the tests taken by the players and coaches of the Ukrainian national team had a negative result?
- I don't think that this influenced change of terms of consideration of case. Although, I agree that this is a good argument in favor of our position. After all, the testing was not conducted in a laboratory that checks ordinary passengers at the airport, but by the UEFA certified laboratory. Therefore, UEFA cannot doubt these results. Significant moment - the players of the national team Serhii Kryvtsov and Junior Moraes tests were also negative, although in Lucerne their results were classified as conditionally positive and therefore the players were forbidden to train. By the way, these same players immediately joined the training process at their club upon their return, which also confirms that they could train with the national team in Lucerne.
UEFA changed the terms of consideration of the case, most likely because they realized that the case on the cancellation of the match Switzerland - Ukraine is not as simple as it might seem at first glance. So they did not hurry.
— Now, a few days after those events, do you think the UAF used all the arguments to make the match with Switzerland happen?
- I am sure that we did everything right. No one would have enough time to comply with UEFA's requirements - to assemble a new team in a day and send it to Switzerland. Perhaps we could do it under normal conditions - those that existed before the pandemic. But now, under strict quarantine restrictions, this is simply unrealistic. I, the UAF President Andrii Pavelko, and the General Secretary Yurii Zapisotskyi, while in Switzerland, kept in constant touch with UEFA and colleagues from the UAF. Here in Kyiv, a meeting was held with the participation of the association's staff, representatives of the UPL, UIA company, diplomats, heads of the border service, the CEO of a UEFA-certified laboratory - in general, everyone who could be involved in organizing the gathering and flight of our new team to Switzerland .
Various options for fulfilling the requirements of UEFA and the Swiss side were considered. But in the end we came to the conclusion that due to objective circumstances beyond our control we will not be able to bring a new team to Lucerne in time, which consists of other players, coaches, doctors and other staff. In addition, it turned out that not all candidates for this team have biometric passports. And most importantly - the results of testing for COVID-19 in a certified UEFA laboratory could be obtained only closer to the evening of November 18. Therefore, the new team could arrive in Switzerland only late in the evening on November 18. It is clear that in this situation there could be no question of any game on November 18. And the next day the match was not agreed to us, just canceling it.
As for our proposal to repeat the tests of the Ukrainian national team players who were in Switzerland, it was categorically rejected by the canton's of Lucerne doctor, who got shut the Ukrainian national team for quarantine. The doctor motivated his decision by the threat of an outbreak of coronavirus in our team, but tests in Boryspil, which, I recall, were conducted by a laboratory certified by UEFA, confirmed that it was a mistake.
— The Swiss accuse the Ukrainian Association of Football of "not doing everything possible" for this match to take place…
- It is very strange to hear ... During the conversation with the Lucerne doctor I heard a remark from him: "I would very much like us to get these three points on the football pitch". It seemed that he was already convinced that we would be defeated. And if the Swiss believe that we "did not do everything possible", then why, for example, they did not offer to hold a match in another canton, where the requirements are not so strict? After all, the match was supposed to take place without spectators and the preparation of the stadium for the game in another city would not take much time… The match revealed players with positive test results for COVID-19. Infected players of these teams were sent to isolation, and the rest underwent additional testing. Why then were we denied this? Unclear…
There are enough questions for the Swiss side in this situation. But now let's wait for the UEFA verdict.
— Thinking of a possible UEFA decision, some media cite as an example the recent situation with Klaxvik from the Faroe Islands and Slovakia's Slovan in the Champions League qualifiers. The Slovak team was punished with a technical defeat due to the presence of players infected with the coronavirus. And the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne confirmed the legitimacy of such a decision of UEFA…
- Yes, the situation is really somewhat similar to ours, but it has one important, I would say key difference. I suggest remembering the chronology of events around that match. On August 17, the Slovan flew to the Faroe Islands and passed tests at the airport. On August 18, it became known that the Slovak delegation has people with positive results. As according to local laws in this situation, the whole team must be quarantined, the Slovaks asked to postpone the match to August 21 to have time to form a new team of players who stayed at home. UEFA agreed to this, and only after Slovan brought a new team, and there were infected players in it, UEFA decided not to hold the match. That is, the Slovaks had a few days before the new date of the match, and we have only a day. This fact, in my opinion, does not allow us to say that our situations with Slovan are the same.
In addition, UEFA could not postpone the qualifying match to another date, as the tournament has a very tight calendar. In our case, the match with Switzerland is important only for the final standings in our group. Therefore, it can be held both in preparation for Euro 2020 in May-June next year, and next autumn, when the playoff matches of the current draw of the Nations League are scheduled. In addition, if both we and Switzerland get to the groups of five teams after the draw for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, we will have additional windows in the calendar to play this match. As the captain of the national team of Ukraine Andrii Pyatov rightly noted, we would like the result of our match with Switzerland not to be determined in the laboratory.
We were ready to assemble a new team and bring it to Switzerland. Let's omit the aspects of the sports component and the quality of training of such a team - this is the topic of a separate conversation. But for this we needed at least 48 hours - it's gathering players, testing, visas for those players who do not have biometric passports, organizing a charter ... Any manager who worked in the national team will confirm that to organize all this in a day , as we were offered in Switzerland, especially for an away match - unrealistic.
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