Why the Sheriff game is being played in Chisinau

Tuesday 13 September 2022 11:57

Manchester United's Europa League Group E game away to Sheriff Tiraspol will not be played at the Moldovan side's home ground.

Sheriff's base is in Transnistria, a breakaway region not recognised internationally, and, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, UEFA made the decision that matches in their competitions should not be staged there.

"In light of the large-scale military escalation resulting in the invasion of the Ukrainian territory by the Russian army, the UEFA executive committee has today decided that no UEFA competition match shall be played in the region of Transnistria, in Moldova, until further notice," said a statement, released in June.

"FC Sheriff Tiraspol have been invited to propose an alternative venue/stadium outside the region of Transnistria for its home matches in UEFA club competitions for as long as the prohibition to play in the region remains in force."

Transnistria borders Ukraine while the Moldovan capital of Chisinau is situated in the centre of the country.

The Zimbru Stadium will host the 17:45 BST fixture (19:45 local time) and it is the home for Zimbru Chisinau and the Moldova international team.

The capacity is 10,400, with around 600 travelling United fans expected to attend.

England played there in 2012, in a World Cup qualifier, and won 5-0, with Tom Cleverley the only United starter for the Three Lions, although Michael Carrick and Danny Welbeck came off the bench.

The stadium takes its title from the Romanian word for the European bison, which appears on Zimbru's badge.

The animal's head is part of the country's national emblem and the legend of Prince Dragos Voda, who hunted aurochs (similar to bison) with his dog Molda, after whom a river and, ultimately, the nation was named, stems from the 14th Century. 

After becoming extinct in the region, there have been efforts to reintroduce the animals in the wild.

Of course, playing teams in different towns and cities to their usual base in away European ties is nothing new for United.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the match with Real Sociedad was played in Turin, while other such instances include taking on Lille in Paris in 2005 and beating Zorya Luhansk in Odessa, en route to winning the Europa League in 2016/17.

Nicosia in Cyprus, where the Reds will play our next game on the road in the competition, staged the clash with Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa in 2002.