Moscow, July 13 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Anzhi coach Guus Hiddink has hit out at UEFA for banning his team from playing Europa League football in their Caucasus home town of Makhachkala for security reasons.
As recently as May, 14 people were killed and 122 wounded in suicide bombings in Makhachkala.
Anzhi have nominated a largely-disused ground near their Moscow training base for their second qualifying round game against Hungarian side Honved Thursday, although it has yet to be cleared by UEFA.
“I did not understand this decision,” Hiddink said. “We played Russian championship matches in Makhachkala last season and everything was fine.”
“UEFA took a controversial decision by prohibiting us to play at our home arena. We have everything in order to hold the Europa League matches in Makhachkala: a good pitch, great fans and wonderful support, but the commission decided in their own way.”
Anzhi director and former Real Madrid star Roberto Carlos backed up the coach’s comments, saying there is “no problem” for European teams visiting Dagestan.
“Airport, stadium, training, hotel, again the stadium, the game – and they fly away. In general, Makhachkala was deprived of a football festival,” he said on the team website Friday.
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.
Anzhi has insisted it will “give maximum support” for fans in Makhachkala intending to make the trip to the Moscow region for Europa League matches.