Ban all sports in Russia, says Ukrainian footballer Andriy Yarmolenko

Ukraine captain Andriy Yarmolenko has called for Russia to be “totally isolated” from all professional sport as news emerged that the country will be excluded from Euro 2024 qualification.

Russia has been banned from UEFA and FIFA competitions since the invasion of Ukraine began in February. With the Euro 2024 qualifying draw scheduled for October 9, the organizers will not include Russia. Yarmolenko, speaking in Glasgow ahead of Ukraine’s Nations League meeting with Scotland on Wednesday, backed Uefa’s position and called on other sports to follow suit.

“My thoughts are quite simple,” said the former West Ham player. “Russian football, Russian sport should be completely isolated. This is a country of terrorists, a country that kills Ukrainians, that kills Ukrainian children. We can’t just talk about sports when something like this happens. All Ukrainian players want Russia to be isolated at every level.

“We cannot allow Russia to participate in any competition while its army kills the civilian population in Ukraine. The Ukrainian team stand is unified; Russia should be banned from everything.”

Oleksandr Petrakov, the head coach of Ukraine, has admitted he has been fined by European football’s governing body after expressing a desire to take up arms against Russia. Petrakov said he did not know the amount of the monetary penalty and seemed perfectly comfortable with the situation.

Asked about the Russian Football Union’s desire to suspend him, Petrakov was equally relaxed: “I’ll say what I said before,” the 65-year-old coach said. “It’s clearly the Russian football federation and their legal team. Whatever they do is their business. I stand by my words.”

When Ukraine visited Scotland in June, Petrakov’s side advanced to a World Cup play-off final, which they lost, against Wales. Steve Clarke, the Scotland manager, has admitted that the circumstances surrounding this delayed match made it difficult for his players. Ukraine were understandably the recipients of global support.

“The last game was a really unique situation where nobody knew what to expect,” Clarke said. “Everyone says that Ukraine is good, they are a very good team. I don’t think they caught us cold but it was a unique game. It was a game that didn’t go well for us, it did for them. We didn’t play as well as we can play. The only thing we can do to fix it is play better this time. And if we play better this time and Ukraine play at their level, we’ll see what the result is.”

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