MOSCOW (AP) A new UEFA-backed professional football league has started play in Crimea after the peninsula was annexed by Russia last year.

Following the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, the Russian Football Union tried to add Crimean clubs to its competitions but was blocked by UEFA, which set up a Crimea-only competition.

The first match of the Crimean Premier League was a 2-2 draw Saturday between SKChF Sevastopol and TSK-Tavria Simferopol, both new clubs using the facilities of old Ukrainian Premier League teams.

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Eight teams are in the league, many fielding a mix of local youngsters and veteran players who previously plied their trade in the Ukrainian lower leagues. The league does not offer qualification for European competitions.