Amid unrest in Moldova, Nice advises fans not to travel
NICE, France (AP) — French club Nice advised its fans Friday not to travel to Moldova for a European game next week amid unrest in the country where authorities have alleged Russian-backed attempts to destabilize the government,
Nice is scheduled to play Thursday in Moldovan capital Chisinau in the Europa Conference League against Sheriff, the national champion from the breakaway region Transnistria.
“Nice must take a responsible attitude,” the club said in a statement, describing the security situation for fans in Moldova as “unfavorable, to say the least.”
Sheriff is hosting the round of 16, first-leg game three weeks after its home game in the previous round was played in an empty stadium against Partizan from Serbia.
Moldovan authorities excluded fans then fearing the UEFA-organized game could be used as cover for anti-government action.
Protests in Chisinau this week against the government involved members of a political party that has supported Russian interests.
UEFA said Friday the Sheriff-Nice game should go ahead with fans in the stadium.
Nice has been selling tickets costing 30 euros ($32) to its fans after the draw was made one week ago, and said Friday it would offer refunds if the first-leg game is postponed or played in an empty stadium.
Sheriff has played all its home games this season in UEFA competitions in Chisinau as a security precaution. The club’s home city Tiraspol is close to the Ukraine border.
Moldova, a former Soviet republic of about 2.6 million people, has sought to build stronger ties with the European Union since its neighbor Ukraine was invaded by Russia last year.
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The Associated Press