The U.S. national team will be heading to Cyprus next week to place the Ukrainian national team in a friendly.
The U.S. were meant to be playing Ukraine in Kharkiv on Wednesday March 5, but due to the recent anti-government protests and political unrest in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and elsewhere in the Eastern European country, a neutral venue has been selected for the USA’s tune up. NBC contacted U.S. soccer and spokesman Neil Buethe had the following to say.
“After discussions with the Ukrainian Football Federation, we have decided not to play in Ukraine on March 5 and are planning to move the match to a city in Cyprus. We are in the final stages of discussions with Ukraine and the Cyprus Football Association to determine the location and kickoff time. We hope to have confirmation on all the match details by Wednesday.”
The Ukrainian football federation had earlier confirmed the move in a statement on their website. According to that statement, a request from the U.S. to switch the game had been made and the Ukrainian FA have accepted that the match should not be played in Ukraine.
“Taking into account the U.S. football federation requested us for a match outside of Ukraine for security reasons, the football federation of Ukraine has made the decision to hold this game in Cyprus, and not in Kharkiv as it was planned.”
Last week dozens were killed in anti-government protest in Kiev which has since seen Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovich, ousted as the country’s leader and unrest is still rife in the former Soviet nation. The Eastern city of Kharkiv, where the U.S. were meant to play, has experienced a severe political backlash as people from that part of the country largely support Russia, while Western Ukraine lean towards the European Union.
As U.S. soccer confirmed, more details on where and when the game will be played in Cyprus are expected to come out soon, as Jurgen Klinsmann’s men will definitely have a friendly match to play after two days of training in Frankfurt, Germany ahead of the clash with Ukraine.