UEFA Women’s Euro qualifier postponed due to “security considerations”


Last month was a historic one for women’s football in Kosovo with the National Team playing its first official home match in Pristina defeating Turkey 2-0 in the UEFA Women’s Euro qualifiers but their match today against Russia has been postponed by European governing body UEFA citing “security considerations”.

Following a request from the Russian Federation addressed to the UEFA Competition Committee and to UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, the match between the two teams has been “indefinitely postponed” with no date set for the match to take place. Kosovo are due to play the return match in Russia on the 9th June.

According to the Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK), “Kosovo was ready to play and did not have anything against it but the refusal came from the Russian Federation since they were afraid of the hooliganism from Serbian or Russian fans. For many years, we as a Federation did not face any issue of hooliganism so we did not encounter any risk in this regard”.

The Kosovo team which defeated Turkey in Pristina last month (Picture courtesy of the Football Federation of Kosovo)

An official confirmation for postponement came from UEFA’s Deputy General Secretary, Giorgio Marchetti in a statement which said, “with regards to the match in question, upon the receipt of a letter dated 21 September 2019 from the Russian Football Union (RFU), UEFA has further assessed the security risk profile of the match. A meeting was held in Pristina with the presence of our Head of Safety and Security Operations, Kenny Scott on 24 September”.

“There are currently insufficient elements to assess the potential threat posed by Serbian and Russian ultra-groups who might try to exploit the match to cause disruption. Furthermore, the match is scheduled two days before political elections in Kosovo, which circumstance may encourage the use of the match for political escalation”.

“For the above reasons, the match is postponed. Further assessment of the security situation will be made in the coming days and a new decision on the match will be made, in consultation with the two teams”.

UEFA confirmed to me that, “the UEFA Women’s EURO 2021 qualification phase match between Kosovo and Russia was postponed for security considerations ahead of the upcoming elections in the country”.

“The situation will be thoroughly assessed over the coming days, and a decision regarding the match will be made in consultation with both teams”.

A statement on the Russian Football Union (RFU) website said UEFA informed them the match had been postponed due to “security reasons”.

Kosovo were only admitted into UEFA competitions in May 2016 following a Congress vote which went in their favour by 28 to 24 votes in spite of strong opposition from neighbours Serbia. Kosovo had declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Their women’s team played their first match in March 2017 and took part in FIFA World Cup qualification for the first time later that year. Russia, the only Eastern European nation to qualify for the last UEFA Women’s Euro in 2017 have won both their opening two matches and sit joint-top of qualifying Group A with reigning European champions, the Netherlands. Only the top team in each group is guaranteed in the 2021 finals to be held in England.

The Russian Women’s team can now concentrate on facing the European champions, the Netherlands (Picture courtesy of the Russian Football Union)

Russian coach Elena Fomina can now turn her attentions to their next match away to the Netherlands in Eindhoven on Tuesday. She said, “on the one hand, we would prefer to play with Kosovo now, on the other hand, there will be a bit more time for preparation”.


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