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Anzhi to play Europa matches near Moscow

Russian Federation,Sports, Mon, 09 Jul 2012 IANS

Moscow, July 9 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russian football club Anzhi Makhachkala have chosen to play their Europa League matches at a stadium near their Moscow suburb training base after UEFA banned games in Dagestan out of safety concerns.

Guus Hiddink's side qualified for the competition by finishing fifth in the Russian Premier League last year.

But UEFA told the Russians to seek another home ground due to the threat of terrorism in the southern province.

Anzhi issued an emotional plea to UEFA president Michel Platini to reverse the decision, citing 20 years of football in the capital Makhachkala without serious incident.

But they admitted defeat Monday, settling on the stadium of defunct club Saturn, from the town of Ramenskoye, just a few kilometers from their Kratovo headquarters and about 40 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

"We have to recognize that UEFA's position has not changed. We have been recommended, as before, to inform it of a location to hold home games outside the North Caucasus," a website statement said, in reference to the group of provinces in which militant cells are still thought to operate.

Anzhi enter the competition in the second qualifying round later this month, playing their first match away on July 19 and the home leg a week later.

Dagestan is seen as a hotbed of terrorist activity and the origin of several deadly attacks over the last few years.

As recently as May, 14 people were killed and 122 wounded in suicide blasts in Makhachkala.

Militants from the regions were blamed for the double suicide blast of the Moscow subway in 2010 that killed 40 people.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

abr/vm



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