Ukrainian men's football team plays its first game since the invasion
Written by Michal
For the past few months, Ukraine has had a tough time competing in? the sporting world. The invasion has called for them to take drastic measures. Even members of their Olympic team competing in Beijing China had to join army forces immediately upon returning to their homeland. Ukraine's national team was able to briefly turn their focus back to football on Wednesday night when they played their first national football game since November, against Bosnia. They were able to beat Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1 in a friendly. A crowd of 20,223 attended the game with Ukrainian nationals able to attend for free.
It was the first time playing since Russia’s invasion of their country in February. Even though it was only a friendly between the nations, the match also acted as a warm-up clash for June's World Cup qualifier with Scotland, and UEFA games with the Republic of Ireland (twice) and Armenia.
A Borussia Monchengladbach interview said, "We’re glad that we could help Ukraine with their preparations for the World Cup play-offs and would like to wish them all the best!"
When the conflict broke out in the early hours of February 24th, Oleksandr Petrakov, the manager of Ukraine's men's national football team, volunteered to join the fight instead of leaving his home in Kyiv as the Russians advanced. “My family told me to go to western Ukraine but I refused. I said: ‘I am from Kyiv, I can’t leave,’” says Petrakov. “I didn’t think it would be correct as people have to defend and I can’t run. If they come to Kyiv, I thought I would pick up a weapon and defend my city.”
Petrakov, who decided to stay in Kyiv and wanted to join Ukraine's territorial defense, argues that regular Russians must bear responsibility as well. ‘They have to pay for their support of Putin. As we saw in the stadium, when Putin came there they applauded him,’ said Petrakov, believing that the Russian national teams shouldn't be devoid of blame and that a 1-year ban just isn't enough, insisting instead on a 5 year minimum.
Recently, it has been announced that players from Russia and Belarus will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this year because of the invasion. This suggests no Russian teams will take part in next season's Champions League, Europa Conference League or Europa League. As well as that, Europe's governing body also announced Russia's bid to host the men's Euros in 2028 and 2032 as ineligible. With the absence of Russian teams in the best leagues in the world, the competition may have just gotten slightly less competitive allowing Czech teams to have that small edge, potentially winning them a trophy. Only time will tell.
NDTV.com, “Olympic Star Shooter Joins Ukraine Forces, Warns Russian Troops ‘They Won't Have A Chance’” https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/russia-ukraine-war-olympic-star-shooter-joins-ukraine-forces-warns-russian-troops-they-wont-have-a-chance-2978011
The Guardian, “‘We could play at Wembley’: Ukraine manager on war, the World Cup and his hatred of Russia” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/01/ukraine-football-manager-oleksandr-petrakov-war-world-cup-hatred-russia UEFA.com,
“Ukraine vs. Republic of Ireland”https://www.uefa.com/uefanationsleague/match/2034514--ukraine-vs-republic-of-ireland/Think tank,
“Russia's war on Ukraine: Impact on athletes and sports competitions” https://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document/EPRS_ATA(2022)729373