The U.S. men’s national soccer team won’t play Ukraine in Cyprus or anywhere else Wednesday.
On Monday, the FFU, Ukraine’s soccer federation, canceled the upcoming exhibition game between the two countries’ national teams, citing a desire to play in front of its home fans.
“We cannot hold the national championship, so what kind of football can we talk of at all?” FFU president Anatoliy Konkov told the ICTV channel, according to Reuters. “If we do not have an opportunity to play on home soil, why shall we go to Cyprus in those troubled times for your country? We play for our people and country. Our team do not fly to Cyprus and stay at home.”
The game is the latest sporting casualty of the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine. Reuters reports Ukraine’s domestic soccer league has postponed the resumption of Premier League games because of Russia’s military invasion of Crimea.
The last-minute cancellation comes just six days after the FFU agreed to play the game in Cyprus, instead of in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where the game originally was scheduled to take place. U.S. Soccer requested a change of venue, and the FFU complied.
The U.S. national team currently is practicing in Frankfurt, Germany. It was scheduled to fly to Cyprus on Tuesday.
The FFU’s reversal could adversely affect the U.S. team’s preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Wednesday’s game was supposed to give Europe-based Americans a last opportunity to impress head coach Jurgen Klinsmann before he selects his provisional World Cup squad in May.
U.S. Soccer has yet to comment or confirm the cancellation.