Tuesday May 24, 2022
Tuesday May 24, 2022

Ukraine returns to soccer field with friendly

2022 May 12, 10:39, Monchengladbach
Ukraine players applaud the fans during the soccer match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Ukraine's national soccer team at Borussia Park, Monchengladbach, Germany, Wednesday May 11, 2022. (Photo credit: AP)

Ukraine is back on the soccer field.

The Ukrainian men’s national team returned to action Wednesday for the first time since the invasion by Russia, beating German club Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 in a charity fundraiser.

The friendly was a chance for the Ukrainians to get back into form ahead of a World Cup qualifying playoff game against Scotland next month, but also just to show their team is still going, despite everything.

“We thank you all for your great help,” former world heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko, whose brother Vitali is mayor of Kyiv, said in a video message to the German club and fans. It felt as if “both (teams) are playing for us,” he added.

The squad for the unusual club-versus-country friendly was assembled from Ukrainian clubs whose league seasons were frozen Feb. 24 on the morning Russian troops invaded.

Ukraine has banned men of fighting age from leaving the country during the war, so the players needed special permission to travel. Some have been touring Europe for weeks, first with the Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk clubs playing fundraising games, then at a national-team training camp in Slovenia.


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