UEFA rules out games in Armenia and Azerbaijan

LONDON (Reuters) - UEFA club and national team competitions will not take place in Armenia and Azerbaijan until further notice because of the continuing military conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, UEFA’s Executive Committee decided on Tuesday.

Fighting has flared to its worst level since the 1990s with hundreds killed.

“After having carefully monitored the evolution of the situation which broke out late September -- which has already led to the relocation of a UEFA Europa League play-off and two UEFA Nations League matches to neutral venues --- UEFA is of the opinion that, at the present time, the conditions to stage UEFA matches in these countries are not met,” a statement said.

Clubs from both nations will have to find alternative venues for their next UEFA competition matches to be played at home.

Azeri side Qarabag are competing in the group stage of the Europa League with Villarreal, Sivasspor and Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

The conflict has thrown into doubt Baku’s hosting of Euro 2020 matches next year, although the UEFA Executive Committee said that it was planning for games to go ahead there.

In another announcement from European soccer’s governing body it said the Elite Round and Final Tournament of the 2019/20 UEFA Under-19 European Championship -- due to be hosted in Northern Ireland -- was cancelled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel difficulties.

Consequently, the teams of England, France, Italy, Netherlands and Portugal will be the European representatives nominated to participate in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis