2018 World Cup hosts have set themselves on a collision course with football's governing body, after incorporating three Crimean clubs into the Russian federation.
Russia, host of the 2018 World Cup, stands in breach of FIFA statutes after its league voted to incorporate three clubs from Crimea in the third division.
The governing rules of the world federation, by which the Russians are bound, lay down that clubs may transfer from one national jurisdiction to another only with the agreement of both associations.
Now the Ukraine federation has made it clear that it does not agree with the clubs from the annexed region – Tavria Simferopol, SKChF Sevastopol and Zhemchuzhina Yalta – being ‘stolen’ by the Russians.
It has demanded that FIFA and also European federation UEFA punish the Russian Football Union for flouting the rules and regulations.
The row places Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko squarely in the firing line over a conflict of interest since he is not only a member of President Vladimir Putin’s government but also of the FIFA executive committee.
The three clubs all took part in Russian cup ties earlier this week prompting Ukraine federation president Anatoly Konkov to publish his formal letter of complaint on the FFU website.
He stated: “With all respect we are addressing you (FIFA and UEFA) over the events troubling not only the Ukrainian football society but also the whole football community.
“We have witnessed the executive committee of the Russian football union illegally and arbitrarily embracing the Ukrainian clubs from the Crimea peninsula.
“As far as we know, the Russian football union officially informed neither UEFA nor FIFA about this decision. I consider it necessary to inform you that three Ukrainian clubs have played in the Russian Cup.
“We understand this activity is in conflict with the regulations of FIFA, UEFA, FFU and RFU.
“As the president of the Ukrainian national association, I am asking you to take all necessary actions to deal with the situation, including applying sanctions to the part that broke the regulations (the RFU) and ignores the basic principles of the higher football institutions.
“We are adhering to the same solid ground regarding the clubs and collective members located in Crimea. This is a matter for the whole of Ukrainian football.
“Crimea is a part of Ukraine, that is why all football members fall into the jurisdiction of the Football Federation of Ukraine.
“We are asking for your answer to clear up the ‘Crimean issue’ as soon as possible. The future of Ukrainian and world football depends on you.”
The latest move was a second attempt by the Russians to stampede the world federation into approving the kidnapping of the clubs.
Russia took over Crimea from Ukraine in March after claiming 96.77pc approval in a controversial referendum and shortly after Ukrainian protesters in Kiev had toppled pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovich. Since then Ukraine has accused Russia of supporting and arming separatists in the east of Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Back in March when Mutko returned home from a FIFA executive committee meeting to tell Russian media that the world federation had cleared the way for Tavriya Simferopol and PFC Sevastapol to quit the Ukraine league. FIFA later denied any knowledge of such an agreement.
Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis has prompted demands from some western politicians for the country to be stripped of hosting rights to the 2018 World Cup finals.
Such demands have been dismissed by FIFA.