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Emotional Leipzig CEO backs UEFA ban of Russian teams

RB Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff has welcomed UEFA’s decision to ban Russian teams and questioned whether professional football should carry on following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“If I were a journalist, I would have asked: ‘Why is there a football match at all when there is war?’” an emotional Mintzlaff said in a press conference Tuesday.

“Why does this or that take place?

“These are questions that we could all again ask ourselves.”

On Monday, European football’s governing body UEFA excluded Russian teams from it’s competitions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

At the same time, FIFA has suspended Russian teams from all international competition.

Due to UEFA’s decision, Bundesliga side Leipzig have a clear passage to the quarter-finals of the Europa League with their last 16 opponents Spartak Moscow now banned.

Following Friday’s draw, Leipzig were criticised for not openly declaring support for a boycott of their two-legged tie against Spartak.

“That’s when people are always quick to fire (criticism),” Mintzlaff said fighting back tears.

After the last 16 draw, Mintzlaff contacted UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin “to tell him: ‘We cannot play under the conditions’.”

“We’re also affected by all this. We were also extremely concerned. And I am also emotionally affected.”

Leipzig’s coach Domenico Tedesco spent a year in charge of Spartak Moscow until December 2020.

While the German has sympathy for his former club, he also welcomed UEFA’s decision.

“I find it good and important that UEFA and FIFA have made this decision,” said Tedesco, whose club faces Hanover 96 in the quarter-finals of the German Cup on Wednesday.

“I believe that to leave the national associations, the clubs and also the players alone with the situation would certainly have been the wrong decision.

“In terms of Spartak, I know the lads there — my coaching staff and I took the club from 12th in the (Russian) league when we arrived to second in the table.

“I am sorry for them, but it is the only right decision to be made.”

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