Ukrainian soccer league resumes for the first time since invasion began

by Seth Udinski

Seth Udinski, FISM News


On Monday the Ukrainian Premiere League resumed action amidst continued threats of danger under the Russian invasion. This marks the first time Ukrainian soccer stars return to the pitch since the invasion began in late February.

Due to threats of air strikes and other attacks, no fans will be allowed in stadiums. Additionally, Ukrainian military personnel will be stationed at each stadium during games for the protection of players, coaches, and referees. Emergency protocols are in place, including mandatory evacuations to a bomb shelter inside the stadium in the instance of a Russian attack.

Historically, sports has, at its best, served as a means by which nations can resume a sense of normalcy in the midst of a terrifying situation. Furthermore, it has allowed nations in trial to rally and unite. This appears to be the driving force behind Ukraine’s Premiere League rebirth.

In a Monday interview, Shakhtar Donetsk captain Taras Stepanenko shared his hope that this will further encourage nationwide courage. He said,

I think the teams, the players will be proud of this event. We are ready, we are strong and I think we will show to all the world Ukrainian life and will to win.

Stepanenko’s Donetsk clashed with Metalist 1925 in the league’s first game in Kyiv earlier today, ending in a 0-0 tie.

The league consists of 16 teams from across the war-torn nation. Desna Chernihiv and Mariupol, two clubs from some of the most damaged regions in the country, will not participate at this time as their stadiums were destroyed in Russian attacks.

These next few days are doubly special for Ukrainian citizens. Today, in addition to the return of national soccer, the nation celebrates its flag day. Tomorrow, the nation will honor its Independence Day, where, in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine formally declared independence from the nation that is now trying to hijack its freedom once again.

According to a report from ESPN, many of the matches will take place in and near Kyiv and in cities to the west of the capital.