Three football clubs based in Crimea will play the 2014-15 season in Russia's football league in the wake of its annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine in March.
The Russian Football Union has accepted the football clubs SKChF from Sevastopol, Zhemchuzhina (also known as "Pearl") from Yalta, and TSK from Simferopol to play in the second division of the Professional Football League and compete for the Russian Cup, the union said in a statement on its website on Thursday.
The Ukrainian Football Federation has disputed the move. Vice-president Anatoly Popov told journalists the Russian body should face "consequences" for taking in the Crimean clubs, arguing that clubs from one football association can't play in another association's matches without permission.
"Crimea is temporarily occupied but it is Ukrainian territory," Popov said. "All football in Crimea is under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Football Federation in every sense of the word. Our government will do everything to return Crimea, and we'll do everything to return Crimean football to Ukraine."
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko has denied that there can be any disagreement. "What can the Ukrainian Football Federation file a complaint about? Explain that to me. People can choose not to accept it, but we're making the decision here, because it's our internal affair," he said, according to Russian media.
It was not immediately clear what Fifa's stance on the issue is likely to be. Vyacheslav Koloskov, honorary president of the Russian Football Union, said it had consulted the international body this week. A Fifa representative told Kommersant newspaper that it could only react to the dispute once it receives a letter with more information from the Russian Football Union, but added that "it's premature to talk about any sanctions".
Any argument with Russia could prove to be embarrassing for the body, as Russia is due to host the 2018 Fifa World Cup, the first such tournament to be held in the former Soviet Union.
Founded in 1958, the Simferopol team previously played in Ukraine's top football league under the name Tavriya, winning titles in 1992 and 2010 and earning appearances in the Uefa Champions and Europa leagues. Zhemchuzhina was founded in 2010 and previously played in a lower Ukrainian league, while SKChF is a former Soviet club disbanded in 1971 and reformed this year.