European football’s governing body UEFA has defended its decision to ban Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala from hosting Europa League matches in Dagestan over safety concerns, the club has said.
UEFA informed the club earlier this week that it considers the threat of terrorism in the southern Russian province to be too great to risk holding Europa League matches there.
That drew an emotional objection from Anzhi, who noted the club hasn’t had a single serious incident in 20 years of football, and protested the fact that UEFA had applied the ban without so much as a visit to the province.
“The UEFA executive committee took this decision based on a trustworthy dossier,” said a letter posted on the club’s website that Anzhi said was from UEFA director Giorgio Marchetti.
“[The dossier] confirms that the terrorism threat in Dagestan remains very high. And this prompts the governments of various countries to issue official warnings to their citizens to refrain from traveling to Dagestan and some of its neighboring regions.”
“Under such circumstances we believe it would be irresponsible on UEFA’s part to allow matches to go ahead in Makhachkala. If it were to be allowed, then it would put the teams, match officials, media and fans at risk, which is unacceptable,” the letter said.
On Tuesday, Anzhi general director Aivaz Kaziakhmedov published a letter to UEFA president Michel Platini on the club’s website in which he urged the Frenchman to reconsider the ban, saying the club is ready to issue safety guarantees.
Kaziakhmedov argued the ban also goes against UEFA values of helping poor regions prosper through football.
“We hold in high esteem the projects of your club to help the population of Makhachkala and encourage you to continue movement in this direction,” the letter said.
Anzhi players, among them stars such as Roberto Carlos and Samuel Eto’o, live and train in Moscow, and fly south for each home game.
Dagestan is seen as a hotbed of terrorist activity and the origin of several deadly attacks over the last few years.
As recently as May, 14 people were killed and 122 wounded in suicide blasts in Makhachkala.
Militants from the regions were blamed for the double suicide blast of the Moscow subway in 2010 that killed 40 people.
Courtesy of: RIA Novosti