The football season in Ukraine got underway with a ceremony honoring the fallen combatants and the soldiers still serving on the front lines.

The first top-level football match to be played in the nation since Russia’s invasion in February was the opening-day encounter between Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist 1925 from Kharkiv.
The Olympic Stadium in Kyiv has hosted some of the biggest football matches in Europe, but never with an empty venue. On Tuesday, two clubs from the country’s war-torn east, one from Donetsk and one from Kharkiv, competed there.

The teams’ 0-0 draw came despite playing thousands of kilometers from their home cities.

Even though a backup plan was set up to have players run to bomb shelters in the event of an air raid, the decision to relaunch the league on Ukraine’s 31st Independence Day has been lauded as a defiant message that Ukrainians are eager to restore some feeling of normal life.

Due to the ongoing martial law in the nation, spectators were not permitted to enter the 65,500-seat stadium to see the game.

Players from both teams entered the field while carrying the national flags of their respective nations. A minute of silence was then observed as the names of Ukrainian cities where war dead were displayed on a big screen.

Six months after stadiums were shut down, weeds had grown in front of the turnstiles, where police stood watch. However, no spectators arrived at the arena.

Before the first game, Igor Jovicevic, the coach of Shakhtar, stated that the match will “show the world that life in Ukraine does not stop.”

Football, he claimed, “can touch the emotions of the entire nation and the people who fight for all of us.”

It promotes survival and demonstrates to the world that football continues.

So, not just for Shakhtar, but also for the entire Ukrainian Premier League, football is crucial for each of us as individuals and as a team.

Tuesday is National Flag Day in Ukraine, and on Wednesday, August 24, the former Soviet Union republic celebrates its declaration of independence from Moscow.

Ahead of the Independence Day holiday, large public gatherings have been prohibited in the city due to worries about possible Russian bombardment.

Andriy Pavelko, head of the Ukraine soccer association, explained the importance of football as a diversion when he spoke with Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the decision to restart in June.

We discussed how football could be able to assist us in thinking about the future.

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