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Despite ongoing war, football returns to Ukraine

Soccer Football – Ukrainian Premier League – Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Metalist 1925 Kharkiv – NSC Olympiyskiy, Kyiv, Ukraine – August 23, 2022 Shakhtar Donetsk’s Artem Bondarenko in action with FC Metalist 1925 Kharkiv’s Andriy Remenyuk. Photo: Reuters

In the midst of Russia’s ongoing invasion, Ukraine has commenced its new football season to boost morale around the country.

Shakhtar Donetsk drew 0-0 with Metalist 1925 at the Olympiysky stadium in Kyiv, In the Ukrainian Premier League’s first match.

In an emotional pre-match ceremony, the players of both teams and the referees entered the pitch wrapped in Ukrainian flags and with a banner that read “We are of the same courage”, Reuters says.

As a show of support for Ukraine, Shakhtar players wore T-shirts with, “Donetsk. Ukraine will win” inscribed over their jerseys, while the players of the Kharkiv club wore similar T-shirts with the inscription “Kharkiv. Ukraine will win.”

Instead of wearing jerseys bearing the logo of its sponsors, the Metalist 1925 played the match in jerseys with the emblem of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.

A minute of silence in memory of the Ukrainians who died as a result of the Russian invasion was observed before the first symbolic kick of the ball was made by a Ukrainian soldier.

Some passers-by outside the stadium in Kyiv including Maksym Scherbyna, a fan of Dynamo Kyiv said ”the resumption of football was very important. we show that war can’t stop us”.

“Our country needs football very much. It unites people very much”, another fan, Denys Lazarenko said.

Ukrainian football was suspended following Russia’s invasion which began on February 24. Many clubs will play their home games away from their own cities, but largely in the safer western or central regions.

Writing by Oluwaseyi Ajibade; editing by Muzha Kucha