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March 5 friendly moved from Kharkiv to Cyprus
by Paul Kennedy, February 25th, 2014 5:38PM
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[UKRAINE-USA] U.S. Soccer and the Football Federation of Ukraine issued statements Tuesday that the March 5 friendly between the USA and Ukraine has been moved to Cyprus. They did not have any details about the location or time of the match originally scheduled to be played in Kharkiv. Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted Saturday and is on the run, facing charges of mass murder after dozens of protesters were killed in Kiev last week. The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning, advising U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine.

U.S. Soccer statement:

“After discussions with the Ukrainian Football Federation, we have decided not to play in Ukraine on March 5 and are planning to move the match to a city in Cyprus. We are in the final stages of discussions with Ukraine and the Cyprus Football Association to determine the location and kickoff time. We hope to have confirmation on all the match details by Wednesday.”

Football Federation of Ukraine statement:

“Taking into account the U.S. football federation requested us for a match outside of Ukraine for security reasons, the football federation of Ukraine has made the decision to hold this game in Cyprus, and not in Kharkiv as it was planned.”

U.S. State Department travel warning:

"The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine during the transition period following the departure of the President from Kyiv on February 22 and while a new government is formed. U.S. citizens in Ukraine, and those considering travel to Ukraine, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of political instability and the possibility of violence, particularly in Kyiv and areas of eastern and southern Ukraine."

As the crisis reached its peak in Ukraine last week, UEFA moved the Dynamo Kiev-Valencia Europa League match from Kiev to Nicosia's GSP Stadium, which seats 22,859 and is the home of the Cyprus national team and three of the top Cypriot clubs. A second Europa League match, Dnipro-Tottenham, was played as scheduled in Dnipropetrovsk.

Cyprus is scheduled to host Northern Ireland at GPS Stadium March 5. The stadium will be used during the annual Cyprus Women's Cup, a 12-team tournament that also begins March 5, but the only game scheduled for the first day at the stadium will be played on an adjacent field.

Located in eastern Ukraine, Kharkiv is a stronghold of Russian support, while western Ukraine, notably along the Polish border, is pro-Western. The current crisis was touched off by Yanukovych's rejection of an association of unity that would have brought it to closer to the European Union.


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