Tag Archives: Ukrainian

The Spirit of Ukraine


“… I was supposed to be there in Kyiv with my mum. It had been her birthday a couple of days before and we were going to have a family dinner at her place with my sister and a few friends. I’d even booked my flights from the 19th to 29th, but because of some paperwork I’d had to do in the U.K., I’d changed my flight out for the 26th. A few hours after my mum’s call, videos started to come in from friends and on social media. Russian helicopters over our land, missiles hitting our roads, bridges and airports, huge traffic jams of people fleeing Kyiv. In a single day, thousands of people who had spent all their lives in Ukraine became refugees. …”
The Players Tribune

Poland’s Lewandowski ‘proud to wear Ukraine armband’ at Qatar World Cup – video

Robert Lewandowski received a captain’s armband in Ukrainian yellow and blue from Andriy Shevchenko. The Poland striker promised to ‘carry the colours of Ukraine to the World Cup.’ Lewandowski was one of the first elite athletes to rally to Ukraine’s cause back in February, days after Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, when he lobbied for the postponement of Poland’s international fixture against Russia. When he next took the field for Bayern Munich, his teammates wore black armbands to honour the victims of the invasion, while Lewandowski, the Bayern captain at the time, wore an armband in the colours of Ukraine. …”
Guardian (Video)
Guardian: Russia demands Uefa ban Ukraine’s manager for remarks about war

Football to ‘remind what we are dying for’ as Ukraine’s season kicks off

“… Only last Wednesday did Pavelko feel certain the sport would return on the date, one day before the celebration of Ukrainian independence, he had earmarked. That was when the security protocols were finally signed off after exhaustive conversations that were not always plain sailing. Should fans be allowed in? That question was easy enough to answer during wartime. Ought the precise time and location of games be kept secret? That was up for discussion but ultimately rejected. What will happen if and when air raid sirens interrupt play? Nobody can be entirely sure how that will feel but games may be abandoned if they sound for longer than an hour. Referees will confer with military advisers to make that decision. …”
Guardian

Ukrainian Premier League set to restart: ‘An act of bravery, but I’m worried’

“‘My heart aches when I think of Kharkiv,’ says goalkeeper Denys Sydorenko. ‘A missile hit our training ground – there’s nothing left of where we used to play.’ On 22 February, Sydorenko’s team, Metalist 1925 Kharkiv, were taking part in a regular training session during the Ukrainian Premier League’s winter break. Two days later, everything stopped. Russia had invaded. Now, six months into the war, Ukraine is preparing to resume its domestic football competitions – despite the constant danger the ongoing conflict brings. The decision to cancel the remainder of the 2021-22 football season was finally taken in April. Shakhtar Donetsk were leading by two points with just over half of the matches played. …”
BBC

A season of hope: Ukraine prepares for remarkable return of league football

“Five months ago, footballers in Ukraine could not afford to give a second thought to their sport. The horrors being inflicted by Russia’s invading forces left nobody untouched and the act of staying alive, while ensuring the same of their loved ones, was all that mattered. Many players left their clubs for the country’s west, basing themselves in relatively calm locations; some sheltered underground with their families and, in a number of cases, teammates, for days on end. …”
Guardian (July 24)

Shakhtar Donetsk seek €50m of damages from FIFA over lost transfer fees


Shakhtar’s chief executive Sergei Palkin is scathing of FIFA’s conduct
“Ukrainian football club Shakhtar Donetsk are seeking €50million worth of damages from football’s world governing body and the club has filed papers in the Court of Arbitration for Sport appealing against a ruling by FIFA that allows foreign players to unilaterally suspend their contracts in the war-torn country. The Athletic can exclusively reveal that Shakhtar, who have won the Ukrainian championship 13 times in the post-Soviet independence era since 1992, filed the documents to Matthieu Reeb, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) director general in Switzerland, in July. …”
The Athletic

Cruel Twist Puts Wales in World Cup and Keeps Ukraine Out


“CARDIFF, Wales — When it was over, when the referee blew his whistle and the crowd roared and Ukraine’s dream of earning a place in this year’s World Cup was gone, most of its national soccer team dropped straight to the grass. A few players held their heads in their hands. The rest simply stared off into space. The scoreboard confirmed what, in that moment, even the Ukrainians themselves could scarcely believe: Wales 1, Ukraine 0. A World Cup qualifying journey laced with symbolism and spirit and national pride, an opportunity delayed three months by war with Russia and reaching its denouement on a day that had begun with explosions in Kyiv, the first direct airstrikes on the capital in a month, had ended not in triumph but in the cruelest of twists: defeat to Wales on an own goal scored by a Ukraine forward, Andriy Yarmolenko. …”
NY Times
Guardian: Kyiv locals put Ukraine’s defeat into context after World Cup near miss

For Ukraine the World Cup looked unthinkable. Now they’re 1 game away after spirited win over Scotland


“GLASGOW, Scotland — Ukraine are 90 minutes away from the World Cup. For a country that is fighting for its very existence following Russia’s invasion in February, to even think about the insignificance of qualifying for a football tournament is difficult to comprehend, but Ukraine’s 3-1 win against Scotland in their World Cup play-off semifinal on Wednesday sent a message to the world that theirs is a country of incredible spirit and resolve. …”
ESPN (Video)
Guardian: Ukraine players offer their suffering nation a moment of joy and clarity
Guardian: Ukraine deny Scotland on emotional night to set up playoff final with Wales

Eastern Promise for Russia


“Once Gazprom were cut as UEFA partners and Aeroflot was jettisoned as a blue chip Manchester United sponsor, an isolated discussion returned to the Russian football sphere – Europe can go get stuffed. And once clubs and national teams were banned from UEFA competitions on may We’re off to join Asia! …”
Backpage Football

Football in Ukraine: ‘Where will the kids train now?’


“Chernihiv is the largest Ukrainian city to have been freed from Russian occupation. Its pre-war population was estimated at around 280,000. After being under siege for more than a month only a third of that figure remains. Seven hundred people have lost their lives, according to official sources. Before the Russian invasion on 24 February, the city was little known around the world. It is situated 150 kilometres northeast of Kyiv and just 60km from the border with Belarus, on the banks of the Desna river. In Ukraine, Chernihiv was known for its wonderful churches, chic parks and great promenades by the river. …”
Guardian

Oleksandr Zinchenko: ‘If you stay silent it means you support what is happening in Ukraine’


“… That is the exhausting but grimly necessary reality for Zinchenko and his compatriots. Every action is cast in the shadow of Russia’s invasion, with its barbaric consequences, and among the biggest concerns is that people outside become desensitised. It simply would not do and, on an Easter weekend when professional commitments bring an FA Cup semi-final for Manchester City against Liverpool, he wants to use his platform. For almost an hour his anger pours out, sometimes in controlled rage but often in raw expressions of hurt. Words can capture people’s attention but, in whatever order, they still cannot rationalise exactly what is happening inside Ukraine. …”
Guardian
W – Oleksandr Zinchenko

‘I cry every day’: in the stands with Ukrainians as Dynamo Kyiv play again


“Far away, at the other end of the pitch, a Ukrainian footballer is scoring what later turns out to have been a beautifully worked goal. That is something remarkable in itself but Oksana is talking and the backdrop has become a detail. She is thinking about the train she will board in around nine hours; it will return her to Kyiv, at last, and from there she will join the volunteer effort in Bucha. The home she left is 10 miles further south, in Boyarka. Like most of the capital’s satellite towns, it has undergone its own visit to hell. …”
Guardian
W – FC Dynamo Kyiv

Exiled by Russian Bombs, a Ukrainian Soccer Team Embraces Its Journey


“It wasn’t the sounds of the bombs, though he did hear those, that brought back the memories for Darijo Srna. It was the air raid sirens. When they blared in Kyiv shortly after 6 a.m. on Feb. 24, Srna froze in terror. His mind flooded with thoughts and recollections of his childhood, of his first experience with war, when the former Yugoslavia broke apart in the 1990s. Since then, soccer has taken Srna, 39, far from his home in Croatia to a distinguished career, the bulk of it with the Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk, where he is currently the director of football, and to games in the Champions League and at two World Cups. But in an instant, the sounds of sirens brought it all back. …”
NY Times

‘We could play at Wembley’: Ukraine manager on war, the World Cup and his hatred of Russia


“When the war broke out in the early hours of 24 February, Oleksandr Petrakov, the manager of Ukraine’s men’s national football team, chose not to leave his home in the capital, Kyiv, as the Russians advanced and shells dropped, but to try to join the fight. … A Russian speaker from childhood, Petrakov now sticks to Ukrainian in public and while some are sad about Vladimir Putin’s war and others are angry, he admits to a more visceral emotion. ‘It’s just hate. It is not anger, but people hate those who invaded their land. We need time to calm down but for now it is just hate. They have broken our countries for years.’ …”
Guardian (April 1)
W – Oleksandr Petrakov

The 2022 World Cup draw analysed: ‘The Group of Dark Arts’, favourites France and that song


“Cringe-inducing cartoon meant to engage with no youngster we have ever met? Check. Song-and-dance routine combing local colour with avant-garde twist? Check. A massive advert for the official ball (the fastest ever, no less)? Yep, we had that, too, and several speeches, a first performance of the first song from the official Qatar 2022 album and a very contrived moment with France manager Didier Deschamps and a young lad who was in the crowd in Moscow four years ago. The 47 minutes of preamble before the draw for the 2022 World Cup at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre flew by! …”
The Athletic (Video)
NY Times – World Cup Draw Highlights: Matchups Let Teams Look Ahead to November
Guardian – World Cup draw: group-by-group analysis for Qatar 2022 – Jonathan Wilson
NY Times: World Cup Draw Brings Certainty. Now Comes the Hard Part.
The Athletic: With a marquee World Cup meeting vs. England, USMNT has a chance to change its perception writ large
BBC – Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022: What are the draw highlights? (Video)

Shakhtar provide supplies to refugees but ‘dreaming of return to normality’


“Normality is another world for Shakhtar Donetsk. When Russia invaded Ukraine, football was stopped and the lives of the players, coaches, staff and fans were turned upside down in an instant. There was no time to waste with lives at stake as the autumn’s Champions League games against Real Madrid and Internazionale quickly became a distant memory. Sergei Palkin, the chief executive, has been at the forefront of the club’s humanitarian efforts and ensuring the safety of players from the academy to the first-team captain. …”
Guardian

2022 World Cup: List of Qualified Teams for Qatar, Updated Standings, Playoff Brackets


“Qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is reaching its conclusion, as countries compete to fill the remaining spots in this year’s showcase on the sport’s greatest stage. … It was determined on Nov. 26 which regions will be paired for the playoffs, whose format has changed. Another wrinkle to qualifying is the expulsion of Russia due to its nation’s invasion of Ukraine. .. Nevertheless, the draw for the 2022 World Cup will occur on April 1, with the March 31 FIFA ranking being used to determine the pots. …”
SI
FIFA World Cup: Which teams have qualified to Qatar 2022? Full list of all 32 nations

Poland Refused to Play Russia Once. It May Have to Do So Again.


“One by one, late on a Friday evening, Robert Lewandowski called his Poland teammates. They were scattered across Europe, and most of them were busily preparing for club games that weekend, but his question could not wait. They had all seen the footage emerging from Ukraine: Russian tanks rolling across the border, Russian artillery bombarding cities and towns, Ukrainian refugees flooding out of the country, hundreds of thousands of them seeking shelter in Poland. In a matter of weeks, Poland was scheduled to face Russia in a crucial World Cup qualifier. …”
NY Times

Roman Abramovich: What do Russian owner’s sanctions mean for Chelsea?


“The future of European champions Chelsea is uncertain after sanctions were placed on Russian owner Roman Abramovich on Thursday. The billionaire has been in charge since 2003 but had his attempts to sell the club halted by the UK government, which has frozen his assets. What does it mean for Chelsea’s fans, players and staff? BBC Sport explains how the situation will affect those associated with the club. Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government as part of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The government believes the billionaire has had a ‘close relationship for decades’ with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, links Abramovich has always denied. …”
BBC (Video)
NY Times: At Chelsea, Nervous First Steps Into an Uncertain Future
NY Times: Britain Freezes Assets of Roman Abramovich, Creating Crisis at Chelsea
Guardian / Jonathan Wilson – ‘It was so emotional’: Yarmolenko on his tears for Ukraine after West Ham goal
Guardian: Stamford Bridge hosts dark day for those who care for football’s soul
New Republic: Is Soccer on the Brink of a Moral Awakening?

Hammers ahead Andriy Yarmolenko, born in Ukraine, scored his staff’s opening objective within the win. With Russia’s invasion on Ukraine persevering with, there isn’t a doubt that his coronary heart is heavy and hurting.

Russia exploits football as soft-power tool but it also helped forge Ukraine’s identity


“Josef Kordik was sitting in a cafe in Kyiv when a bedraggled man on the street caught his eye. That, he was sure, was Myklova Trusevych, the great Dynamo goalkeeper. He rushed outside. It was spring 1942, a few months after the city had fallen to the Nazis. Kordik was a Moravian who had been left behind after fighting for Austria-Hungary in the first world war. He had not enjoyed his new life and watching football had been his only joy, but the occupation had meant opportunity. He had falsely claimed Volksdeutsch status and been installed as manager of Bakery Number 1. But for most people occupation had brought suffering. Trusevych had sent his wife, who was Jewish, to Odesa to escape the fighting. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson
Guardian – ‘The worst possible nightmare’: voices from Ukrainian football as war rages

Why Did Global Soccer Ban Russia, Really?


“Anything as popular as soccer, whose fans number in the billions, is bound to become currency. The game carries immense value for people who play and watch it, but also to anyone who wants to use it to reach hearts, minds, and wallets the world over. In the past 30 years, the commoditization of the world’s game has accelerated, both as a television product and as a means for the ultra-rich to blow their money and burnish their reputations. The highest tier of global soccer is so expensive now that there probably is no ethical way to afford membership. But the roster of EPL club owners is a who’s-who of murderous dictators; scions of other oil-rich, human rights-denying royal families; and oligarchs who pillaged state assets to make themselves rich as their countries privatized them after the Cold War. …”
SLATE
FIFA’s suspension of Russia is a rarity – but one that strips bare the idea that sport can be apolitical
ESPN – FIFA suspends Russia from World Cup, all soccer competitions: What it means, how it works (Video)
Forbes: FIFA Bans Russia, But Don’t Forget About Ukraine’s World Cup Dreams
Aljazeera: Russia faces sporting fallout over invasion of Ukraine (Video)
FIFA has finally acted against Russia, but it doesn’t undo a long history of cosying up to Putin (Video)

Ukrainian flag with the inscription “Stop War. We against war.” prior the Bundesliga soccer match, Germany

Trying to escape the horror – footballers’ stories from Ukraine


“In the basement of their family home, the wife of Taras Stepanenko took refuge underground, accompanied by the couple’s three children, aged eight, seven and four. The explosions started in the middle of the night, the thuds of artillery thundering in the distance. As the family sheltered, the Ukrainian international footballer Stepanenko organised. His home, near to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, is located close to woodland and set against the Dnieper river. … Yet now, he is one of the millions hiding within their own borders. He has been stripped, at least temporarily, of his career and his freedom. …”
The Athletic

FIFA Suspends Russia, Ejecting It From World Cup Qualifying



“World soccer’s global governing body suspended Russia and its teams from all competitions on Monday, ejecting the country from qualifying for the 2022 World Cup only weeks before it was to play for one of Europe’s final places in this year’s tournament in Qatar. The suspension, which was announced Monday evening in coordination with European soccer’s governing body, also barred Russian club teams from international competitions. The decision came a day after FIFA was heavily criticized for not going far enough in punishing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and amid mounting demands from national federations for stronger action. …”
NY Times

Champions League Final Will Be Played in Paris, Not Russia


“European soccer’s governing body on Friday voted to move this season’s Champions League final, the showcase game on the continent’s sporting calendar, to Paris as punishment for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The game, on May 28, had been scheduled to be played in St. Petersburg, in a stadium built for 2018 World Cup and financed by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, a major sponsor of the governing body, UEFA. It will take place instead at the Stade de France, in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. It will be the first time France has hosted the final since 2006. UEFA said it had made the decision as a result of ‘the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe.’ …”
NY Times
****New Republic: European Soccer Only Has Itself to Blame for Its Russia Problem
***NY Times: Stranded Soccer Stars, Frantic Phone Calls and a Race to Flee Kyiv (Video)
NY Times: The Roots of Ukraine’s War: How the Crisis Developed
NY Times – Maps: Tracking the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The Athletic: Footballers should not be asked to do a politician’s job
NY Times – Soccer, Russia and a Line Drawn Too Late