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Kosovo, Russia teams to be kept apart in European competition

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ZURICH (Reuters) – Teams from Kosovo and Russia will be kept apart in UEFA competition indefinitely because of security risks, European soccer’s governing body said on Friday.

“Having taken account of the security risks surrounding matches between teams from Russia and Kosovo, the (emergency panel) decided that the two teams shall no longer be drawn against each other in any future UEFA competitions until further notice,” said UEFA in a statement.

UEFA added that two matches already scheduled between Kosovo and Russia in the women’s Euro 2021 qualifying tournament would go ahead, but on neutral venues. The first meeting was due to be played on Oct. 4 but was postponed until a date to be decided.

Kosovo was granted full membership of UEFA and FIFA in 2016 despite strong opposition from Serbia.

UEFA often keeps teams apart where it considers that matches could be politically sensitive.

At the draw for the Euro 2020 qualifying competition, Kosovo-Serbia, Russia-Ukraine, Armenia-Azerbaijan and Spain-Gibraltar were all kept apart.

Russian and Ukrainian teams have been kept separated following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. This also meant that Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk could be not drawn against Russia’s Lokomotiv Moscow or Zenit St Petersburg in this season’s Champions League.

(Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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