The Ukrainian football association has announced, hours before the kick-off, that the national team’s Nations League match against Switzerland has been called off following the outbreak of coronavirus in the team. The Group A4 match in Lucerne was in jeopardy from the moment Swiss regional health officials declared their decision regarding the Ukraine travelling party.
The association said in a statement that it was informed by UEFA the match “cannot take place”, after the Swiss health authorities made the decision “to quarantine the entire delegation of the national team of Ukraine”. Three Ukraine players – Eduard Sobol, Yevhen Makarenko and Dmytro Riznyk- tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this week.
“UEFA, UAF and the Swiss Football Association are ready for the match, but the ban (by) local authorities cancels all hopes of football organizations to hold the game,” Ukraine press officer Oleksandr Hlyvynskyi said in a statement. “The decision on the future of the match will be made by UEFA.” The Swiss FA also confirmed the match would not go ahead, saying the Ukrainians could not produce a replacement team.
Andriy Shevchenko’s side have been badly affected by the virus, as four more players tested positive before the 3-1 loss away to Germany on Saturday. In October, Ukraine included 45-year-old assistant Oleksandr Shovkovskiy in the squad for a friendly against France after a number of players, including two goalkeepers, tested positive.
“The UEFA Nations League match between Switzerland and Ukraine will not take place,” a statement from Swiss FA read. The Ukrainian team, quarantined, will not be able to field a replacement team. The outcome of the meeting is now in the hands of UEFA.” Ukraine are three points ahead of Switzerland with one match left in Nations League Group 4, as they attempt to remain in the top of the competition.
In the qualifier last year, Ukraine won six of their eight games, only drawing their away matches in Portugal and Serbia, to secure their place. They booked their place in the tournament with victory over Portugal despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s 700th goal. Andriy Shevchenko’s side was a part of six top seeds for the Euro 2020 finals draw, leaving world champions France and holders Portugal unseeded.