International soccer games moved from Armenia, Azerbaijan

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Armenia and Azerbaijan will no longer host international soccer matches in the next week for security reasons amid their conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

UEFA said Tuesday the national teams’ home games in the Nations League will instead be played in neutral Poland and Albania.

The decision was made after UEFA “assessed the situation in Armenia and Azerbaijan further to the latest developments in both countries.”

A decades-old conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan flared again last month. Both countries accuse each other of expanding the hostilities beyond Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia was scheduled to host Georgia in Yerevan on Sunday, and will now play in Tychy, Poland. Azerbaijan’s home game against Cyprus in Baku next Tuesday will now be in Elbasan, Albania.

The UEFA policy followed a decision last week to move a club game in the Europa League to neutral Cyprus. Ararat-Armenia had been drawn to face Serbian club Red Star Belgrade at home.

A warm-up game on Wednesday for Armenia against Albania in Yerevan was previously canceled.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been controlled by ethnic Armenian forces since 1994. A separatist war started after the breakup of the Soviet Union three years earlier.

For security reasons since 2007, UEFA has separated national and club teams from Armenia and Azerbaijan in its tournament draws.

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