Anzhi stars upset at UEFA stadium ban: BoussoufaJuly 12th, 2012 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS
Moscow, July 12 (IANS/IANS RIA Novosti) Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala’s star-studded team is upset at UEFA’s decision to ban the team from playing Europa League games at their home stadium, Anzhi’s ex-Anderlecht winger Mbark Boussoufa said Thursday.
European football’s governing body ruled that the province in which Anzhi play home matches, Dagestan, was too dangerous to hold games there.
After Anzhi appealed the decision in vain, the club settled on a stadium near their Moscow suburb training base, the former home of now-defunct team Saturn Ramenskoye.
“They’ve taken away our opportunity to play for our fans, and that’s very bad. Everyone in the team is disappointed at this fact,” Boussoufa said.
“I want to play for Dagestani fans. The atmosphere in the stadium in Makhachkala is simply amazing, but they’ve taken away our opportunity to enjoy it.”
Guus Hiddink’s side, boasting players such as former Chelsea wing-back Yuri Zhirkov and three-time Champions League winner Samuel Eto’o, qualified for the competition by finishing fifth in the Russian Premier League last season.
Anzhi enter the competition in the second qualifying round later this month, playing their first match away July 19 and the home leg a week later.
Dagestan, one of Russia’s poorest regions, 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.
Anzhi has insisted it will “give maximum support” for fans in Makhachkala intending to make the trip to Ramenskoye for Europa League matches.