Football

Why Ukraine vs USA friendly must go ahead

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The Ukranian national team prepares for a challenge from the USA. (©GettyImages)
The Ukranian national team prepares for a challenge from the USA. (©GettyImages).

In recent days, Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone on record stating that he will defend the interests of ethnic Russians in the Ukraine, even by force if needed.

That seems understandable enough, as I imagine most leaders of nations would state the same.

However, his more recent comment that "Neo-Nazis and anti-Semites are rampant in Ukraine and particularly in Kiev (and) people in eastern Russia are worried," has to leave one scratching their head.

If we learned anything from the lead up to the Sochi Games it was that Russia itself appeared to be a haven for anti-gay neo-Nazi groups.

With the current state of turmoil in the Ukraine, we can all be thankful for a little break from reality as the Ukraine vs United States friendly on Wednesday is set to go ahead, though the match has been relocated to Cyprus' Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium due to understandable security concerns.

As an American, the statement coming from the head of Ukrainian football, Anatoliy Knkov, was truly heartwarming.

The former Dynamo Kiev star and Ukrainian national team manager was quoted as saying of the Americans: “(They) stood behind us to protect the national interests and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

I have to admit, I have some selfish interest in the proceedings in the Ukraine outside of my humanist, altruistic nature.

Firstly, the United States National team really needs this game. I know, in the face of impending war, who am I to care about how the European-based Americans are going to blend in with their MLS counterparts? But hey, I’m entitled to a little selfishness, right?

My second thought was in regards to club football, namely; how was Gazprom, the newly named official “Global Energy Partner” of Chelsea Football Club, going to fair in all of this.

Gazprom relies on the Ukrainian pipeline, and depends on its deal with the Ukraine to ferry its stock west. I already have to deal with Chelsea’s seemingly undying affiliation with the bane of my existence that is Samsung (This is a personal matter, you know what you did, Samsung!), and now this? The horror.

I’ve read reports that claim Europe accounts for nearly a third of Gazprom’s sales.

If that is indeed the case, expect the partly Russian controlled mega-corporation to take a major hit.

How that will impact their partnerships with Chelsea Football Club, not to mention their sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League, remains to be seen.

Hopefully this will all be sorted out peacefully, but in the meantime, let’s all enjoy some international friendlies as we get ready to ramp up for Brazil.

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