European soccer might see extra disruption from Azerbaijan-Armenia battle over disputed area

International soccer video games might once more be affected by the territorial dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia that reignited on Tuesday.

Norwegian workforce Molde was travelling on Tuesday to Azerbaijan, two days forward of a scheduled sport within the Europa League towards Qarabag.

As Molde gamers and officers had been in transit, Azerbaijan launched what it known as an “anti-terrorist operation” focusing on Armenian army positions within the Nagorno-Karabakh area.

“We’re on our way and with a stopover in Warsaw for fuel now, before heading for Baku, that’s our plan,” Molde spokesman Per Lianes wrote in an e mail to The Associated Press.

UEFA mentioned it’s “monitoring the situation and is in close contact with the host association” of Azerbaijan.

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The newest battle follows rising tensions this month within the area that was the scene of a separatist struggle that began within the Eighties and a six-week struggle in 2020.

Nagorno-Karabakh and sizable surrounding territories have been below ethnic Armenian management since 1994. Azerbaijan regained the territories and components of Nagorno-Karabakh itself in 2020. That struggle ended with an armistice that positioned a Russian peacekeeper contingent there.

Three years in the past, UEFA required membership and nationwide groups from Azerbaijan and Armenia to seek out impartial nations to host their house video games in worldwide competitions till the battle stopped. Months later, Baku hosted 4 video games on the males’s European Championship.

Qarabag can be set to host Bayer Leverkusen in November and Swedish membership Hacken in December of their Europa League group.

Azerbaijan can be set to play Cyprus within the Women’s Nations League in Baku on Friday. Armenia hosts Kazakhstan in the identical competitors subsequent Tuesday.

UEFA determined in 2007 for safety causes to separate groups from Armenia and Azerbaijan in all its competitors attracts. That was after the 2 males’s nationwide groups had been unable to play qualifying video games for the 2008 World Cup after they had been drawn in the identical group.

International video games nonetheless have provided a stage for statements of nationwide and ethnic satisfaction.

Last week, Armenia’s European Championship qualifier was paused as a result of a drone carrying a breakaway flag was flown above the gamers.

In December 2018, a fan carrying the Armenian flag ran onto the sphere to disrupt Qarabag’s Europa League sport at Arsenal.

Qarabag was once more affected the following season in Luxembourg when a drone flew over the sphere carrying an Armenian flag throughout a sport towards Dudelange. The drone angered Qarabag gamers who tried to hit it with the ball. Play was halted for greater than 20 minutes.

Last week, UEFA opened a disciplinary case into the most recent flag-carrying drone incident when Armenia hosted Croatia. The drone was applauded by some followers in Yerevan.

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