MOSCOW - A Roman Abramovich-sponsored tournament involving leading Russian and Ukrainian clubs has been cancelled, organisers said on Monday. The Channel One Cup, which had been held in Israel in January for the past three years, was called off by Russian billionaire Abramovich's National Academy Fund (NAF) after Zenit St Petersburg became the latest top Russian team to pull out. The UEFA Cup winners changed their plans after, unlike previous years, tournament organisers decided not to offer any prize money. Two of Moscow's top teams, Spartak and Dynamo, also declined to take part. "We have been forced to cancel the tournament for sporting reasons," NAF vice-president Alexander Edelstein told Reuters. "The tournament was conceived as a competition between leading clubs from Russia and Ukraine and now it is no longer possible." Edelstein said in the past the tournament had offered $2 million in prize money, half of which went to the winner. Chelsea owner Abramovich's NAF funds several football development programmes in Russia and also helps pay national coach Guus Hiddink's salary.
22 December 2008
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