Ukraine on Tuesday launched its new football season despite Russia’s ongoing invasion, in an apparent attempt to give a morale boost to the war-ravaged nation.
In the first match of the Ukrainian Premier League, Shakhtar Donetsk drew 0-0 with Metalist 1925 from Kharkiv at the Olympiysky stadium in Kyiv.
In an emotional pre-match ceremony, the players of both teams and the referees entered the pitch wrapped in Ukrainian flags and unfurled a banner that read “We are of the same courage.”
The Shakhtar players wore T-shirts with the inscription “Donetsk. Ukraine will win” over their playing jerseys, while the players of the Kharkiv club wore similar T-shirts with the inscription “Kharkiv. Ukraine will win.”
In addition, Metalist 1925 played the match wearing T-shirts with the emblem of the Ukraine’s Armed Forces instead of the traditional sponsor logo.
After a minute of silence in memory of the Ukrainians who died as a result of the Russian invasion, the first symbolic kick of the ball was made by a Ukrainian soldier.
Matches will be held without spectators due to security reasons.
But passers-by outside the stadium in Kyiv voiced their support.
Maksym Scherbyna, a fan of Dynamo Kyiv, said the resumption of football was “very important”.
“We show that war can’t stop us,” the 35-year-old said.
Fellow fan Denys Lazarenko, 41, said: “Our country needs football very much. It unites people very much.”