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Russian union to meet with UEFA, FIFA

MOSCOW (AP) - The Russian Football Union plans to attend UEFA and FIFA-mediated talks next month aimed at resolving a dispute with Ukraine over the clubs in Crimea.

Three clubs from Crimea, a region in Ukraine annexed by Russia in March, debuted in Russian league and cup competitions this month. UEFA has refused to recognize any matches they play, but stopped short of issuing sanctions against Russia, the 2018 World Cup host.

RFU president Nikolai Tolstykh told Russian media that talks with the Football Federation of Ukraine on the issue would be held Sept. 18 at UEFA headquarters.

''The agenda of the meeting will concern the situation regarding clubs from Crimea and Sevastopol competing in the Russian championship,'' Tolstykh told the R-Sport news agency.

However, FFU spokesman Pavel Ternovoi told The Associated Press that Ukrainian representatives ''are not interested'' in talks with Russia if it continues to claim jurisdiction over Crimean clubs.

Ternovoi said that talks involving both countries' football associations plus UEFA president Michel Platini and FIFA representatives were planned but not confirmed, and that ''the question . is open'' over whether the FFU's president would meet with the Russians directly.

Instead, discussing possible sanctions against Russia with UEFA and FIFA remains a priority, he said.

''To achieve some kind of solution is impossible in negotiations with a side that is breaking all existing football norms and laws,'' Ternovoi said. ''The only thing we can achieve in talks with UEFA and FIFA is the level of sanctions and understanding of the issue.''

UEFA's ruling that it would not recognize the Crimean clubs' matches in Russia was welcomed by Russian Football Union officials, who noted that it did not include sanctions against their organization.

All three Crimean clubs covered by UEFA's ruling - SKChF Sevastopol, Tavria Simferopol and Zhemchuzhina Yalta - are playing in Russia's third tier and none are competing in any UEFA tournaments this season, so UEFA's ruling is likely to have little practical effect.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said the matter should be ''overseen'' by UEFA, which as Europe's governing body has precedence over FIFA in purely European disputes.

Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta earlier this month published what it said was a leaked recording of a meeting of the RFU's executive board to discuss admitting the Crimean clubs to the league.

On the recording, which has not been independently verified, some of the participants express concern that Russia could lose the right to host the 2018 World Cup or that Russian clubs could be ejected from the Champions League and Europa League.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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