Ukraine FA chief denies accusations of favourtism

November 9, 2006

KIEV, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Ukraine's top official, accused of bias by leaders of Shakhtar Donetsk, has said he is impartial in his dealings with clubs and in no way favours Dynamo Kiev - the club run by his brother.

Federation president Hrihory Surkis and Dynamo President Ihor Surkis have been embroiled in a row with Shakhtar's coach and owners over last Monday's ill-tempered league match between Dynamo and Shakhtar.

Dynamo won 1-0 but Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu, backed by club president Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's wealthiest magnate, blamed biased officiating and called for changes in Ukrainian soccer to eliminate 'conflict of interest'.

Hrihory Surkis told a news conference on Wednesday that he had long severed any connection with Dynamo Kiev, where he held senior office through the 1990s.

'When I was elected president of the Ukrainian Soccer Federation, my brother and I carefully separated the finances of the federation from that of Dynamo,' he said. 'I am not a shareholder in the club.'

Since he became federation president in 2000, Surkis said, Shakhtar have won the Ukrainian title three times.

'What complaints could they possibly have against me? I think it would be a good idea to stop such talk,' he said.

'I am to remain in office until 2008, and my job is to lobby the interests of all Ukrainian soccer in Europe and throughout the world.'

Portuguese referee Paulo Gomes showed four red cards in the Dynamo-Shakhtar match including one for Lucescu, who was then caught on television accusing the national federation of bias.

Referring to the two Surkis brothers, Shakhtar boss Akhmetov complained this week of a 'problem within the system of Ukrainian soccer, where a club president and federation president amount to one and the same person'.