Ukrainian federation bows to UEFA demands

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KIEV - Ukraine's football federation (FFU) told UEFA on Wednesday it was dropping calls for the departure of its long-time president in line with demands by European football's governing body.

UEFA had told the FFU it should withdraw calls for Hrigory Surkis to go or it would face suspension from European football, thereby threatening its right to co-host the 2012 European Championship.

"A decision has been made to withdraw the demands," Serhiy Storozhenko, a senior FFU official who had led the rebellion against Surkis, told Reuters.

A newspaper website carried text of a letter signed by 11 members of the federation's executive committee.

"We are withdrawing the written demands... for the holding of an emergency congress and we will not demand a replacement of the management of the FFU before the end of Euro 2012 and before the end of the term of the FFU's president," it said.

Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovich had earlier moved to calm the situation, denying that the state was interfering in the FFU and calling for sensitive internal discussions to be put off until after the tournament.

"We can resolve the conflict in the FFU by postponing discussions on its internal problems until next year," he said in an interview ahead of a planned visit to Warsaw on Thursday.

Ukraine is co-hosting Euro 2012 with Poland.

END PRESSURE

UEFA last week gave Ukraine until February 4 to end pressure on the FFU president or face suspension from international football.

UEFA had supported Surkis, who has headed the FFU for 10 years and was fighting a sustained attempt by opponents to oust him before Euro 2012.

Ukraine's big-money football scene is rife with competing interests among its super-wealthy and media said key figures who wanted the 61-year-old Surkis out included Euro 2012 minister Borys Kolesnikov and chemical and construction oligarch Oleksander Yaroslavsky.

Surkis's opponents, who have a majority voice in the FFU, had said they would continue to seek his dismissal despite the warnings from UEFA and world football's governing body FIFA.

Several FFU members tried unsuccessfully in December to sack Surkis who has been accused by some fans of favouring Dynamo Kiev, a team run by his brother Ihor Surkis.