Mönchengladbach On Wednesday, Borussia Mönchengladbach will host the Ukrainian national team, for whom it is the first match since the beginning of the war. How the duel arose, what people in Ukraine were going to get out of it, and how many spectators are expected.
The football players from the Ukrainian national team face a special task on Wednesday. While the war rages in their home country, they will play a game for the first time since the war began on February 24 to send a signal of solidarity at a distance. The opponent is the Gladbach Bundesliga team, which is played at 20.45 in Borussia Park.
“The national team wants to send a message of Ukrainian unity and show how important support from around the world is for them,” said Iryna Shum, Ukraine’s Consul General in Düsseldorf ahead of the match.
It is just as important for the players currently conducting a training camp in Slovenia that they feel the support of the people at the stadium. About 14,000 tickets were gone on Monday, 20,000 being the target. Tickets are available at discounted rates, and Ukrainian citizens can even book them for free. According to Shum, about 150,000 Ukrainians have now fled to North Rhine-Westphalia alone.
“We would be happy if people came to the match in Ukrainian colors,” Shum said. Small flags should also be handed out at the stands. Borussia has declared the game a charity game and will donate all winnings from the game to a good cause. So far, the club has already donated one euro for each club member, and spectators can still donate their cup deposit at the stadium. “Currently, almost 180,000 euros have been raised,” said Borussia’s CEO Schippers. This money, for example, was used to buy medicine and then send it to Ukraine, he explained.
The game is meant to increase the total, but how did the duel between Gladbach and Ukraine arise? “We have been contacted by the legal adviser of the Ukrainian Football Federation if anything like this is possible,” Schippers said. “We want to give Ukraine the sporting opportunity to prepare for the important matches, but also to offer a platform to express that what is happening in Ukraine is disgusting,” Schippers said. For Ukraine, the game is used, among other things, to prepare for the World Cup playoff match against Scotland on June 1 and then three matches in the Nations League.
The Ukrainian players, who will be using Borussia’s training ground from Tuesday to Thursday and also staying at the club’s hotel, will have the names of various Ukrainian cities on their jerseys. The squad consists mainly of players from the Ukrainian top clubs Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk. Mykola Matvienko and Taras Stepanenko are among those who played against Borussia in the 2020 Champions League. The players who are active in foreign clubs only come on the team after their respective seasons.
It is an honor for Gladbach’s coach Adi Hütter to be able to help in this way. Four days before the season’s final match against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday (15:30) he will distribute the playing time as evenly as possible. “We will mix the squad and try to field two strong teams for a half each. We can try one or the other and give some players who have recently played less playing time,” said Hütter.
In terms of media, the match on Wednesday should generate the widest possible reach. The TV station ProSieben will report from Borussia Park for three hours from 20.15 and give viewers the opportunity to help in various ways. “We noticed that one or the other fan criticized the late kick-off time, but ProSieben gave us a clear signal that the crowd would be more than twice as loud at this later time,” said a spokesman for the club.
In cooperation with a Ukrainian television station there will be an opportunity to watch the match from Ukraine. “The match between Borussia Dortmund and Dynamo Kyiv two weeks ago attracted a great deal of attention. Such actions give courage and strength to the people of my country,” Shum said. After all, it is more important than the outcome in the end.