Image Courtesy of ESPN
By Jack Cherico
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in the early morning of February 24, 2022, struck fear into Ukrainians’ hearts and people around the world. The hardships people within Ukraine have had to endure since the invasion have been countless, and citizens are pouring across the Poland border to seek asylum.
While bombs were dropped on the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv, players and their families from Ukrainian soccer clubs Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk were trapped in a hotel taking shelter. Brazilian players from both clubs made a desperate plea to their government to get them out of the country via air travel, but there was nothing that could be done, as the Russian invasion pushed forward and sieged the Kyiv airport. Eventually, the players and their families were transported across Ukraine to Moldova and Romania via bus for around 16 hours. The plight of these soccer players mirrors the hardships that Ukrainian citizens have had to endure, and the rest of the sporting world is doing its best to support Ukraine.
In the world of sports, the Russian invasion has not gone unnoticed, similar to the economic sanctions placed on Russia by the United States and other NATO countries. The United European Football Association (UEFA) announced that the champions league final, the premier club competition in Europe, would be moved from the Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, to the Stade de France stadium in Paris, France. Krestovsky Stadium is sponsored by the Russian government’s oil company Gazprom, whose sponsorships with football clubs across Europe have been canceled.
Furthermore, according to the International Olympic Committee, Russian national teams have been banned from all international competitions. This decree will prohibit Russian athletes from participating in the European Championship, World Cup, or Olympic Games. Soccer clubs from all over Europe expressed their support for Ukraine, including Barcelona and Napoli. Before their Europa league match, the Spanish and Italian clubs brought out a banner saying “Stop War.” Also, Ukrainian players have received standing ovations from fans during games, such as Manchester City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko and Benfica forward Roman Yaremchuk.
Hopefully, the sanctions placed on Russia will dissuade them from further involvement in Ukraine, and the Russian government will recognize the atrocities they are committing towards innocent people.