UEFA wartime congress: Ukraine in front of a bomb crater, Russia in Vienna

UEFA wartime congress
Ukraine in front of a bomb crater, Russia in Vienna

The war in Ukraine remains the most difficult topic for football. The delegates at the UEFA Congress are shown the consequences of the conflict. In the evening, the country’s national team and Borussia Mönchengladbach set a sign of peace.

Andrei Pavelko stood in front of a bomb crater. The president of the Ukrainian Football Federation was wearing a protective vest when he spoke on Wednesday in shocking live video from a destroyed stadium in Chernihiv. “The Ukrainian football community saves lives, saves children’s lives,” the 46-year-old told delegates at the UEFA Congress in Vienna. There was silence in the conference hall of the exhibition center in the Austrian capital. Dealing with the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine remains a tension for football.

The European Umbrella Organization had excluded Russian clubs from all tournaments and also moved the Champions League final from Skt. Petersburg to Paris – but the Russian association remains part of UEFA until further notice. Alexander Alayev, the young secretary general of the RFU, was in Vienna. He did not want to comment.

UEFA President Alexander Čeferin avoided clear statements about further sanctions against RFU, saying it was “too early” to talk about it. “I do not want to rule anything out, but I also do not want to say that it will happen in the future,” the Slovenian said at noon during the press conference. “We hope this madness will end as soon as possible.” Čeferin defended himself against a general suspicion that officials were automatically close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We were bombed”

“Football is without a doubt the loser. One of the losers as we remove the passion and dreams from players, coaches and fans who have nothing to do with the current situation,” the UEFA president said during his congressional speech, quoting other points. where football always won. “But when UEFA imposes unprecedented sanctions, football is trying to make its small contribution to European society and politicians working for peace.”

Then Pavelko reported live. Despite sound problems, the 46-year-old was able to deliver his message from the seemingly bizarre landscape under a bright blue sky at the bombed-out stadium. “Behind me you can see the stadium that was hit. You can see that the pitch was completely destroyed. We were bombed, even today in the region bombs fell here,” said the head of the association in the northern Ukrainian region.

According to the umbrella organization’s translation, Pavelko said he did not have the “moral right” to leave Ukraine and travel to the UEFA Congress in Vienna. “But I’m sure we’ll discuss important things together at the next congress.”

The new normal in Ukrainian football

A few hours after Pawelko’s impressive performance, the Ukrainian national team and Borussia Mönchengladbach put an emotional sporting sign of peace in an advantage match. Solidarity and concrete help were in focus. Most of the 20,223 spectators sang and clapped for both teams as Ukraine made it 2-1 (1-1) in Borussia Park. Among the fans were numerous Ukrainians who were allowed to stay there for free. For the national team, it was the first match since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

The game aims to help Ukraine on two levels. All the money won goes to help people suffering during the war. But the meeting was also important from a sporting point of view. National players who played in their home country before the war lack competition competitions. The selection is scheduled to play in the semi-finals of the World Cup finals in Scotland on 1 June. If Ukraine wins, they will face Wales four days later for a place at the World Cup in Qatar. “It is very important for our national team and for our country that we manage it,” former Bundesliga professional Andrei Voronin said at the stadium microphone.

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