World Cup: USMNT match vs. Ukraine to be moved to Cyprus due to political upheaval
The US national team will travel to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, not Kharkiv, for for their March 5 friendly vs. Ukraine, Reuters reported on Tuesday morning, due to political instability in the Eastern European nation.
The report cited a post on the Ukrainian federation web site stating that the U.S. Soccer Federation had requested the move “for safety reasons.” The USSF confirmed the plan on Tuesday afternoon.
“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," read the statement from US Soccer. "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.”
Dozens have died in widespread, violent protests against Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich in recent weeks.
Despite Yanukovich's removal from power, lingering chaos and an ongoing economic crisis have left the nation on edge as the USMNT prepared to visit for one of their final matches before coach Jurgen Klinsmann finalizes his World Cup roster.
“Due to the request of the U.S. Soccer Federation,” read the Football Federation of Ukraine's announcement, “it was decided to hold the game in Cyprus and not in Kharkiv at Metalist Stadium as planned earlier. Start meeting and venue to be confirmed.”
Cyprus, a small island nation south of Turkey, would present the USMNT with warmer temperatures and likely comparable facilities to Ukraine. Thursday's Europa League match between Ukrainian club Dynamo Kiev and Spanish side Valencia has already been relocated to the GSP Stadium in Nicosia.