Two teams have been cleared to participate in national tournaments FILE PHOTO. © Sputnik / Maks Vetrov

Yalta’s Rubin football club has become the second Crimean team to join Russia’s Second League, the football association’s press service confirmed on Tuesday. The league cleared Sevastopol last week.

The certification commission of the Football National League (FNL) has “decided to grant the Rubin club an FNL certificate,” the association said in a statement. The FNL is a part of the Russian Football Union, responsible for the second and the third highest leagues in the national football league system.

The decision opens the door for other Crimean clubs to join Russian football championships. The FNL has already sent invitations to Tavria, from the regional capital of Simferopol, and Okean from Kerch.

Three of the invited clubs took the highest places in the regional championship and the fourth one won the cup of the Crimean football union. For years, the Crimean clubs have been limited to regional championships and could not participate in any competitions outside of the peninsula.

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Back in 2015, a year after Crimea voted to join Russia in a referendum, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) decided to create a separate football union for Crimea. Local clubs were barred from joining Russian championships, though.

The FNL certification committee cleared the two clubs to join the Second League’s B division, which includes more than 60 clubs from various Russian regions. The league is the third-strongest national league in Russia, after the Russian Premier League and the First League. It also has the A division, limited to the 20 best teams.

Russian teams have been banned from international football competitions by FIFA and UEFA, after those organizations followed an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation to take such action when Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022. (RT)