- © RIA Novosti. Vladimir Pesnya
© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Pesnya
MOSCOW, February 20 (R-Sport) - UEFA would consider proposals to create a joint Russian-Ukrainian football league if the national federations involved agree, European football’s governing body told R-Sport on Wednesday.
Leading Russian clubs, plus state-controlled gas firm Gazprom, are pushing for the creation of the Unified Football Championship for Russian and Ukrainian clubs, which could then expand into other post-Soviet countries.
“In general, provided all respective national bodies agree, UEFA would then look into the matter,” UEFA said in a statement e-mailed to R-Sport.
“UEFA has not received any concrete proposals for a regional or supranational CIS league from the competent national associations,” it said, referring to the Soviet-successor Commonwealth of Independent States.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has labeled the plans “impossible,” and the Ukrainian football federation said last week it was absolutely opposed.
Russian FA president Nikolai Tolstykh has previously said he would follow Blatter’s lead, although the organization appeared to soften its stance slightly Tuesday with a website statement promising to “act in the interests of Russian football” on the issue.
The plans for the league, drawn up by ex-Russia manager Valery Gazzaev, call for three mixed Russian-Ukrainian divisions of 18 teams each, with promotion and relegation between the divisions and relegation to lower-level national leagues.
UEFA has allowed regional club competitions before, but they did not seek to replace national leagues, as the proposed Super League would.
The Royal League brought together clubs from Norway, Denmark and Sweden between 2004 and 2007, but attracted scant interest from fans because it did not offer European qualification and clubs often fielded weakened teams.
The only current cross-border competition approved by UEFA is an ongoing three-year trial of a multinational league for Belgian and Dutch women’s football, set to run until 2015.
Gazprom has been a major sponsor of UEFA's main club competition, the Champions League, since July.