Tobol can join Russians and Belarusians in Pilsen, the government agreed with visas

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Tobol can play in Pilsen with Russians and Belarusians, the government has agreed to visas

Football. Illustrative photo.

Prague – The government unanimously agreed to grant visas to Tobola Kostanaj, the Kazakh club will be able to play in Pilsen against Viktoria on Thursday in the rematch of the play-off for promotion to the European Conference League with players from Russia and Belarus. In a statement to the media, the press spokesman of the government, Václav Smolka, stated this. Tobol has three Russian and one Belarusian footballer in its squad, none of whom flew to Prague today with the team. Club co-owner Alimžan Kaldijarov said on Instagram that without them, Kostanaj might not have started the match at all.

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According to Deník, the Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala also intervened in the whole matter, who was supposed to promise the players an exception. Subsequently, the government approved the granting of visas. “Today, the government unanimously agreed to grant visas to the players of the Kazakh club Tobol Kostanaj to the Czech Republic. The government made this decision primarily because the players of the private Kazakh club Tobol Kostanaj represent that club and Kazakhstan, not the Russian Federation or Belarus,” Smolka said in statement.

“All along we have provided all assistance to Tobola Kostanaj and communicated with all parties involved so that a decision could be made as quickly as possible. We welcome that everything is resolved, we are looking forward to the match and believe that we will be will come to support as many fans as possible in an important match on Thursday,” the Pilsen club said in a statement to the media.

Tobol has Russian goalkeeper Ivan Konovalov, defender Albert Gabarayev and midfielder Ivan Kirejenko and Belarusian defender Pavel Zabelin in the squad. Three of them started a week ago in the opening match, in which Pilsen won 2:1 in Kazakhstan. They were not on board the plane today after arriving in Prague, confirmed to Deník N the spokesman of the foreign police, Josef Urban.

“Unfortunately, the players from Russia and Belarus were not allowed to travel with us. We still believe that the situation will be resolved, they will get a visa and come through another country. Would we play if they could not play? Now I would say not,” said the co-owner of the Kazakh the Kaldijarov community even before the decision to grant visas was made.

The server reminded that by boycotting the match, Tobol would be exposed not only to the threat of suspension, but also to exclusion from European cups for a longer period of time. This season, Kostanaj went over three opponents in the qualification of the Conference League and before the match with Pilsen, they presented themselves in three countries. At the stadium of Honka in Finland, Basel in Switzerland and in Dublin against Derry City, Russian and Belarusian players were available and played.

This was also taken into account by the government when making the decision. “The football club Tobol Kostanaj has already played matches in Europe this season in the framework of the UEFA European Conference League, in which the affected players also interfered. If the government decided not to grant visas, there would be disciplinary proceedings from UEFA and possible sanctions against FC Viktoria Plzeň , which would not only result in financial losses, but above all damage to the prestige of Czech football,” said Smolka.

Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the government in June approved a ban on the start of Russian and Belarusian athletes on Czech territory. Although Belarus did not actively participate in the war, it allowed Russia to launch attacks from its territory.

The National Sports Agency's interpretation is also consistent with today's government statement, according to which nothing should prevent Russian and Belarusian Tobol players from starting in western Bohemia. . “According to our interpretation, Russian footballers playing for a Kazakh club could play in the match in Pilsen without violating the government's resolution, as they are members of a team that does not represent Russia or Belarus,” Deník quoted National Sports Agency spokesman Jakub Večerka as saying.

< p>The government regulation from June, according to the interpretation of the National Sports Agency, applies only to representatives of their countries. Nevertheless, in July, no Russian or Belarusian tennis players started at the Prague Open after the police at the Ruzyne airport refused to let one of them into the Czech Republic. Tennis players from both of these countries compete in tournaments under neutral status and without state symbols.