Keeping foes apart: FIFA separates Armenia, Azerbaijan at upcoming World Cup draw

Keeping foes apart: FIFA separates Armenia, Azerbaijan at upcoming World Cup draw


International football’s governing body is trying to limit political clashes in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers by separating Armenia-Azerbaijan and Russia-Georgia in the European draw coming up next month.

FIFA says it has honored a request by European soccer authorities to keep the former warring neighbors apart when qualifying groups are drawn July 30 in Rio de Janeiro, according to Associated Press.

The teams were also kept separate in the 2012 European Championship qualifiers.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have no diplomatic relations after a 1992-1994 war in Nagorno-Karabakh and remain at loggerheads over the status of the region. The two South Caucasus neighbors were drawn together in Euro-2008 qualifying but the matches were never played.

Russia and Georgia were briefly at war in August 2008 over the disputed territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Relations between the two nations separated by the Caucasus mountain range still remain sour.

FIFA says UEFA was the only one of its six continental confederations to make special requests.

An UEFA decision to keep Armenia and Azerbaijan apart spared their appearance in the same group during the ongoing Euro-2012 qualifying campaign.