The fighting ongoing in countries such as Ukraine and Israel is beginning to take its toll on their respective domestic sporting schedules. Earlier this week, Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk revealed that six senior players have refused to return to the club; amidst fears of the current violence the city has become embroiled in.

These players, including five Brazilians and one Argentinian, are keen to stay home until the chaos subsides or will seek a transfer to another club where their safety can be assured, and who can blame them? Moving your family and yourself  to a foreign country is difficult enough without the constant fear of coming under attack. Given that the merciless nature of the aggressors has led to an innocent passenger flight being gunned down, it cannot be a safe place to play your trade. These players may be under contract at the club, but there has to be an exception or some sort of clause that protects them against any life threatening developments.

The club’s owner, Rinat Akhmatov, has rather bullishly ignored any kind of concern and feels the players have an obligation to return and will “suffer” if they continue to exile themselves.

I don’t rule out that these players will return to the team quickly, and some of them tomorrow. Players have contracts that they have to abide by. If they do not come, I think, they will be the first to suffer.

“Each of them has a minimum release clause, which is tens of millions of euros. If someone wants to reduce this amount by a million, then such a decision is our right. There won’t be a clearance sale.” Akhmatov said.

I believe this is pure ignorance by a man driven solely by money and power, neglecting his moral responsibilities towards the professionals he employs. If it is deemed that a player’s safety is in jeopardy, and the club is doing nothing, then UEFA should step in to enforce changes. And UEFA certainly have.

Just yesterday, UEFA, the European governing body of football, ordered Shakhtar to move away from the chaotic scenes in Donetsk, and play their fixtures at an arena in Lviv. This is a great example of good work done by the powers at be to protect people in the profession, who are caught up in such turbulent situations. This will also mean home and away fans travelling to watch the games can feel much safer.

Their work has not stopped there, however.

Keen to protect more people across the globe, UEFA has also instructed all teams in Israel that they cannot host any European games while the country’s conflict with Gaza ensues. Instead, they must find a stadium in another country to play in until further notice. It appears, however, for all the governing body’s power, there is little they can do to prevent the sport being mixed up in the ongoing strife, after pro-Palestinian protesters provided us with a sneak peek of what we can expect from the Israeli Premier League this season by invading Maccabi Haifa’s pre-season friendly with Lille in Austria. If the mayhem in the country does not cease soon, the decision making could fall out of UEFA’s hands, and into the powers that be of the Israeli Premier League, who may copycat the action taken in the Ukrainian League. The difference is, with Israel a much smaller country, and Hamas’ long missile range, there may be nowhere else to go.

Regardless, both the decisions taken are bold moves by UEFA, and certainly the correct decisions given that, after all, football is just a game.

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