By Paul Nicholson
November 20 – The Ukrainian FA (UAF) claims that its Nations League match against Switzerland should have been played and that the country had enough covid-free players to complete the fixture.
A UEFA decision on how points are awarded for this unplayed fixture will determine whether Ukraine or Switzerland retain their position in the top tier of the Nations League.
The Swiss are bottom of the Group 4 table but have a better goal difference than the Ukrainians who are three points ahead. If UEFA awards the game to Switzerland, judging that Ukraine could not fulfil the fixture, then the Ukrainians will be relegated.
The Ukrainians are questioning the motivation for the Swiss calling off the fixture and whether they tried hard enough to get the game played.
Local Swiss authorities in Lucerne decided to cancel the match hours before kick-off. UEFA rules are that if there are 13 players with negative tests the match should take place.
Ukraine maintain they had enough players and staff with negative tests to participate in the game. The Ukrainian medical staff had even offered the Swiss that they could participate in the re-testing of players, wait for the results, and play on November 18. The Lucerne medical official declined the offer.
On return to the Ukraine the players were re-tested with results showing that there would have been enough players in Switzerland to complete the fixture. Two players, Serhii Kryvtsov and Junior Moraes, who had previously tested positive and were suspected of having a recurrence of Covid-19, in fact tested negative in Ukraine and have returned to team training.
UAF First Vice President Oleh Protasov, said: “The national team was ready for the match, which we emphasized in negotiations with both the Swiss side and UEFA. The team was ready to retest COVID-19 to confirm the presence of at least 13 healthy players, but we were denied, bringing all our efforts to nothing. Although the test results obtained immediately after returning to Ukraine in the UEFA-accredited laboratory proved us right.”
The Ukranians also question the Swiss desire to actually get the game played. Ukraine team doctor Artur Hlushchenko said: “Unlike our colleagues from Germany, who showed readiness to solve any issues that arose in the process of organizing the match with their team and performed their work at the highest level, including in the context of medical protocol, in Switzerland we do not saw the same treatment.
“What I mean is that after PCR testing revealed five infected people in the Ukrainian delegation in Leipzig, the German Football Association conducted an additional research on the matchday. To do this, German colleagues brought their mobile laboratory, at 13.00 we passed the tests, receiving the results three hours later. They were all negative, and the game took place. As for the Swiss, they refused to conduct testing on the matchday, unequivocally appointing it for the evening before the match – November 16.”
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