UEFA suspends soccer official for anti-Armenia online abuse

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — An Azerbaijani soccer club official was suspended by UEFA on Wednesday while under investigation for posting offensive comments about Armenia on social media.

UEFA said Qarabag media officer Nurlan Ibrahimov faces potential charges of “racist and other discriminatory conduct” and “violating the basic rules of decent conduct.”

An interim ban will prevent Ibrahimov from working at Qarabag’s Europa League game on Thursday at Sivasspor.

It’s the second UEFA disciplinary case involving Qarabag since conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh reignited in September.

UEFA reprimanded more than 20 players and officials from the club, which has its roots in Nagorno-Karabakh, for making military salutes at a Europa League playoff game in Poland.

The Armenian soccer federation had called on UEFA to remove Qarabag from the competition for Ibrahimov’s comments “calling to kill all the Armenians, old and young, without distinction.”

The posts were later deleted.

“Hate speech, calls for violence (and) xenophobia must be eradicated from football,” the Armenian federation said.

The UEFA suspension was ordered by its disciplinary committee, which had asked an investigator to gather evidence on Monday.

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