Many actions done by the football world to express their disgust about Russia invading Ukraine.
By: Emmanuel Mendez
On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine and left the world in shock. Many Ukrainians fear for their lives and have made other people concerned about the conflict between both countries. It impacted the football world which decided to express their opposition against the war that will affect many lives.
The UEFA Champions League is the biggest European football competition and was organized to have St. Petersburg host the Champions League final in May. Due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, UEFA has chosen to strip its hosting rights away and give them to the Stade de France in Pairs.
There is one Russian team left in the European competitions, Spartak Moscow, and there has not been any discussion on whether to ban them from competing this year. At the time of writing, Spartak Moscow will still be playing in the Europa League when they take on RB Leipzig on March 10th and 17th.
Another conflict this invasion has caused is the World Cup qualifiers in Europe that are soon to begin in March. Both Russia and Ukraine are in the playoffs to qualify for the World Cup. Ukraine will take on Scotland and the other two teams who could be possible opponents are Wales and Austria.
Russia was scheduled to play Poland and their next possible opponents if victorious against the Polish are Sweden and the Czech Republic. Poland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic football associations made a joint statement telling FIFA they will not play in Russia for the World Cup playoffs.
FIFA and UEFA have been banned from football competitions due to International Olympic Committee (IOC) call to suspend athletes.
The Ukrainian football league has been suspended due to the war and it includes. Teams who have participated in the Champions League like Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk. The current Shakhtar Donetsk manager, Roberto De Zerbi, discusses how he and the team are in a hotel and staying in Ukraine. The Italian coach told the press that he and his staff woke up to the noise of bombs and explosions.
“There are no heroes here, but our job puts us in front of responsibilities. We were supposed to play on Saturday, so I would not run away.” – Roberto De Zerbi
Former Shakhtar Donetsk coach, Paulo Fonseca, discusses how he has tried to leave the country, but it has been very complicated.
There are many Brazilian footballers that play for Shakhtar Donetsk and one of the players, Junior Moraes, shared a video of him and his family, along with other players, stating the situation is serious and hope to get out of the country soon.
“I woke up at 5 am with five explosions in a row. I had a flight scheduled for today, but now it is impossible to leave here because the airports are already destroyed, and the airspace has been closed.” – Paulo Fonseca
German club Schalke 04 removed the logo of their main sponsor GAZPROM, a state-owned Russian energy company, from their shirts. Manchester United has withdrawn from the Aeroflot sponsorship deal they had due to the invasion of Ukraine.
One of the first Russian players to speak out of the Russian invasion was Dynamo Moscow striker Fedor Smolov, who said “No to war!”. Ukraine and Manchester City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko has stated the following “My country belongs to Ukrainians, and no one will ever be able to appropriate it. We will not give it away. I can’t stand back and not put my point across.”
Ukrainian striker Roman Yaremchuk scored for Benfica in their Round of 16 games vs Ajax in the Champions League. He revealed a shirt that shows support for his country. Atalanta`s Ruslan Malinovskyi is also Ukrainian who scored two goals against Olympiacos in the Europa League. He unveiled a “No War in Ukraine” shirt after scoring his first goal.
FC Barcelona and Napoli players held a banner together before their playoff Europa League game stating to “Stop War”.
The football world is sticking together to support Ukraine against this terrible situation with Russia. Other sports are also taking action to show support and remove Russia from other events like the F1 deciding to not hold the Russian Grand Prix.
The impact of this conflict affects many and let’s hope for peace and unity for Ukraine.
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