Ambassador critical of ministers' choice

08 June 2012 08:47

The Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK has called the ministerial snub of England's Euro 2012 group matches "a misjudgment".

No ministers will be attending England's Group D games in Donetsk and Kiev amid anger over the treatment of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Ambassador Volodymyr Khandogyi rejected the term "boycott" - highlighting the fact that the situation is under review for the knockout stages should England make it that far, but told Radio Five Live: "I do not see the word boycott, rather there is information that ministers will not attend the first leg of the tournament in Ukraine - which I really regret."

He went on: "It's not a boycott or they would have said that but I regret they will not go. I think it is a misjudgment. I think this is not an opportune time to mix politics and sport.

"We are ready and looking forward to this event. Those who will not come, it is their own personal decision.

"It is disappointing to read these headlines because I think they are not fair in the first place. I would invite people to see for themselves rather than see these headlines.

"A lot of people are coming, some are not. That is their sovereign decision."

The ministerial snub was confirmed on Thursday in a statement from the Foreign Office.

It read: "The Government fully supports England's participation in Euro 2012. We hope this is a successful tournament for the England team, the fans and the people of Ukraine and Poland.

No ministers will be attending group games at Euro 2012. We are keeping attendance at later stages of the tournament under review in the light of ministers' busy schedules ahead of the Olympics and widespread concerns about selective justice and the rule of law in Ukraine."

Source: PA