US-Ukraine Soccer Exhibition Moved To Cyprus Amid Recent Violence
CHICAGO (CBSLA.com/AP) — The United States’ exhibition game against Ukraine next week has been moved from Kharkiv to Cyprus following weeks of violence in the Eastern European nation.
The U.S. Soccer Federation announced the change in venue Tuesday. The March 5 match is the only game before the start of the Americans’ pre-World Cup training camp in mid-May in which the full player pool is available.
The State Department issued a warning Sunday to “U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine.” The warning went on to say “U.S. citizens in Ukraine, and those considering travel to Ukraine, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of political instability and the possibility of violence.”
“We are in the final stages of discussions with Ukraine and the Cyprus Football Association to determine the location and kickoff time,” U.S. Soccer Federation spokesman Neil Buethe said in a statement Tuesday. “We hope to have confirmation on all the match details by Wednesday.”
No. 18, Ukraine is the highest-ranked team that failed to qualify for the World Cup. In three previous meetings, all in the early 1990s, Ukraine beat the U.S. twice and tied once.
The U.S., ranked 13th, hosts Mexico on April 2 at Glendale, Ariz., with a roster of players mostly from Major League Soccer. The Americans are planning home exhibitions on May 27, June 1 and June 7 before leaving for Brazil, where they play Ghana, Portugal and Germany in the first round.
The Eastern European country has seen a fair share of turmoil over recent weeks, after president Viktor Yanukovych reversed a prior decision to sign a trade deal with the European Union, instead opting to trade with Russia.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)