Ukraine season to finish behind closed doors

FC Shakhtar fans wave Ukrainian flags during the Ukrainian Premier league football match between FC Shakhtar and FC Dnipro at Dnipro Arena in Donetsk on March 22, 2014

All of Ukraine's remaining championship matches as well as the cup final will be played behind closed doors after authorities feared they could trigger more deadly clashes in the country, it was announced Thursday.

The Ukraine government had already called for fans to be excluded from remaining matches because of the risk of trouble following violent clashes between supporters of a united Ukraine and pro-Russian groups at games.

"Today the situation in the country is extremely unfavourable for staging football matches," the interior ministry stated in a letter to the Ukraine Football Federation.

The ministry said the federation should also consider moving matches away from the tense southeast of the country to other regions.

"The incidents that happened ahead and during the league matches on April 27 at Kharkiv and on May 2 in Odessa clearly proved the risk of trouble," said the letter.

Dozens were killed and injured in the fighting around the two games.

"We request the Ukraine's Football Federation and the country's professional football league to stage the remaining league matches in the daytime of working days and behind closed doors.

"The ministry respects the intention of Ukraine's football community to maintain the integrity of the national championship. However, we ask league matches organisers and the country's football lovers to show their understanding of these urgent measures."

Ukrainian football chiefs have already switched several league matches and the national cup final, which was scheduled to be played at Kharkiv on May 15, to other venues.

"I received information that there would be bloodshed at the cup final if it was played in Kharkiv," Sports Minister Dmitry Bulatov was quoted as saying by the country's media.

The venue for playing Ukraine's Cup final between Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kiev is yet to be decided.