March 25, 2014

Away from the pitch, financial struggles also threaten the club's existence. Tavriya's main financial backer, Dmytro Firtash — a titanium magnate whose rise has been closely linked to the now-ousted, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych — was arrested in Austria on suspicion of bribery before posting the largest bail in Austrian history last week. He says the charges, which come after a long FBI investigation, are politically motivated. Either way, the drama has led to speculation about his future willingness to pay the wages and transfer fees of his team, the Krymchyany (Crimeans).

Russian Football Federation president Nikolai Tolstykh, center, is looking to absorb a pair of Crimean clubs into the Russian league set-up.
Denis Tyrin/AP
Bayer Leverkusen's Tranquillo Barnetta, center, gets tripped up by Tavriya Simferopol's Anton Monakhov during their UEFA Europa League clash in Simferopol, Ukraine, on Aug. 26, 2010.
Arvidas Shemetas/EPA/Landov
A Ukraine supporter outside of a Chelsea-Tottenham clash earlier in March voices his opposition to Russia president Vladimir Putin.
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Eliot Rothwell is a writer, mainly on football, currently based in Istanbul. He writes number of publications including ESPN and The Daily Mirror, with an emphasis on Eastern Europe. You can follow him on Twitter @EliotRothwell.

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