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Andriy Yarmolenko restates the need for Russia to be isolated from the sporting world

Ukraine captain Andriy Yarmolenko has called for the complete and permanent isolation of Russia from professional sport after UEFA confirmed the country would be banned from qualifying for Euro 2024.

Speaking on the eve of Wednesday’s Nations League game against Scotland at Hampden, the former West Ham star said it should be impossible to contemplate seeing ‘terrorist’ Russia represented on the pitch while its army killed civilians in his homeland.

Russia has been banned from UEFA and FIFA competitions since launching its invasion of Ukraine in February, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejecting an appeal against that ban in July.

UEFA declared yesterday that the nation would have no place in the Euro 2024 qualifying draw scheduled to take place in Frankfurt on October 9.

Yarmolenko’s comments came as it was confirmed that Ukraine manager Oleksandr Petrakov had been fined an undisclosed amount and warned by European football’s governing body for declaring he was ready to take up arms against Vladimir Putin’s forces. Petrakov rejected the minor sanction and emphasized that he stood by his words.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has agreed to play a friendly match against Russia in St. Petersburg in November, a decision that has drawn angry criticism from high-profile Bosnian players Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko.

Andriy Yarmolenko reiterated calls for governing bodies across the sport to take a tough stance against Russia
Andriy Yarmolenko reiterated calls for governing bodies across the sport to take a tough stance against Russia

Andriy Yarmolenko reiterated calls for governing bodies across the sport to take a tough stance against Russia

Asked about the situation regarding Russian involvement in top-level sports, Yarmolenko insisted that more governing bodies should follow UEFA’s example.

‘My thoughts are quite simple,’ said the 32-year-old, who now plays for Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates. “Russian football, Russian sport, should be completely isolated.

‘This is a country of terrorists. A country that kills Ukrainians kills Ukrainian children. We can’t just talk about sports when something so horrible happens.

‘All Ukrainian players, they want Russia to be isolated at every level. We cannot allow Russia to participate in any competition while its army is killing the civilian population of Ukraine. So the standing of the Ukrainian team is quite united. Russia should be banned from anything.’

Ukraine's captain for Wednesday night's clash against Scotland said Russia was a country of terrorists who must be dealt with appropriately
Ukraine's captain for Wednesday night's clash against Scotland said Russia was a country of terrorists who must be dealt with appropriately

Ukraine’s captain for Wednesday night’s clash against Scotland said Russia was a country of terrorists who must be dealt with appropriately

Russia will not feature at Euro 2024, which will be hosted by Germany, and they will be absent from the qualifying draw in Frankfurt on October 9
Russia will not feature at Euro 2024, which will be hosted by Germany, and they will be absent from the qualifying draw in Frankfurt on October 9

Russia will not feature at Euro 2024, which will be hosted by Germany, and they will be absent from the qualifying draw in Frankfurt on October 9

Yarmolenko scored the opening goal for Ukraine in June’s 3-1 win over Scotland in the World Cup play-off semi-finals.

It was the country’s first competitive match after the Russian invasion. With the war now in its seventh month, Yarmolenko stressed that their patriotic motivation remains just as strong.

“Nothing has changed since the last time,” said the forward. ‘We still have war in Ukraine and we want to bring joy to the fans of Ukraine, so we get to play for our country, our people, everyone who lives in our country these days.

‘We want to distract the Ukrainian people from war, from all this terror and incredibly difficult situation. The team wants to bring a smile to the faces of the Ukrainians at home for at least 90 minutes.’

Ukraine have fond memories of Hampden Park, having won at the ground in June this year
Ukraine have fond memories of Hampden Park, having won at the ground in June this year

Ukraine have fond memories of Hampden Park, having won at the ground in June this year

While Wales denied Ukraine a place in the World Cup finals, there could be no doubting Petrakov’s superiority over Scotland on their last visit to Glasgow.

Yarmolenko is happy to step back at Hampden with a chance of anything but winning top spot in this Nations League section. Still, he is wary of a much-improved display by the hosts.

“I remember Hampden, the memories are brilliant but at the same time it’s history,” he continued. ‘We have a new game, a new match and we have to concentrate and be completely aware of what will happen this time.

‘We’re just thinking about winning this game. That’s how it always is in football.

– We know that Scotland is a really strong team, but we also have to think about our game.

A Ukrainian unit rides tanks as they retake territory taken by Russia earlier in the conflict
A Ukrainian unit rides tanks as they retake territory taken by Russia earlier in the conflict

A Ukrainian unit rides tanks as they retake territory taken by Russia earlier in the conflict

Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov was fined and warned by UEFA after comments about the war
Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov was fined and warned by UEFA after comments about the war

Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov was fined and warned by UEFA after comments about the war

‘We know how to play and hopefully we will win. But we know it will be difficult because it’s Scotland, who are a really strong team.’

Petrakov was clear that he had not regretted his words about Russia, despite UEFA delivering a small financial penalty.

Speaking in April, the 65-year-old said: ‘If they come to Kiev, I will pick up a weapon and defend my city.’ He added: ‘I think I could take out two or three enemies.’ The Russian Football Federation wrote to UEFA calling for Petrakov to be banned, accusing him of discriminating against their country and failing to remain politically neutral.

In a Facebook post yesterday, the head of the Ukrainian Football Association, Andrii Pavelko, stated that UEFA had only issued a fine which the organization had paid.

“I will say again whatever I have said before,” Petrakov insisted. “This is clearly the Russian Football Federation and their legal team. Whatever they do is their business.

Russia's national football team has been barred from qualifying for the 2024 European Championship in Germany
Russia's national football team has been barred from qualifying for the 2024 European Championship in Germany

Russia’s national football team has been barred from qualifying for the 2024 European Championship in Germany

‘I will say it again and I stand by my words.

‘I have no idea about the amount of money (for the fine). I was told by the president of the Ukrainian Football Association about what happened at UEFA.

“I have no other knowledge of the amount or nature of that fine. It is okay.’

Confederation chief Pavelko accused Russia of ‘distraction tactics’ ahead of Hampden.

“The Russian hysteria about the head coach of the national team of Ukraine, Oleksandr Petrakov, is not worth the slightest attention, because their ill-mannered complaint has long been dealt with by UEFA,” wrote Pavelko.

The funeral of a Ukrainian military serviceman will take place in the capital Kiev this weekend
The funeral of a Ukrainian military serviceman will take place in the capital Kiev this weekend

The funeral of a Ukrainian military serviceman will take place in the capital Kiev this weekend

“Of course, there is no ban and could not have been. There was a warning and a minor fine, which the Ukrainian Football Federation had the honor of paying.

So in vain the Russians are now trying – on the eve of an important match for the Ukrainian national team – to distract our preparations.

‘Everyone is as focused as possible on this and preparing to support our boys.

‘PS At the same time, the Russians have nothing to prepare for. As required, Russia will not feature in the Euro 2024 qualifying draw in Frankfurt, Germany on October 9 and will not feature in official international football competitions until at least 2024.

‘Euro 2024 will pass without an aggressor country! Glory to Ukraine!’

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