In Ukraine, football is trying to overcome the war

In Ukraine, football is trying to overcome the war

Footballers and ex-footballers engaged in the search for funds for reconstruction. The championship will take place and the message is clear: Ukraine doesn't know what will happen tomorrow, but they know that there will be tomorrow

Arrigo Sacchi once said that "Football is the most important thing of the unimportant things". Words that Andriy Shevchenko, former AC Milan and Ukrainian international, has made his own since he agreed to become a testimonial for united24, the Kyiv government initiative to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine devastated by the Russian invasion; collection that has currently reached over 400 million dollars.

The GAME4UKRAINE charity match will be played at Stamford Bridge in London, Chelsea's stadium on August 5 – which has its own website and in which, among others, Zola and Fabio Cannavaro will take part –, of which Oleksandr Zinchenko, Sheva's heir to the national team, is also a testimonial: the proceeds, as explained well online, will be used to rebuild the Mykhailo-Kotsiubynskyi high school in Chernihiv, bombed by Russian troops on March 4 last year. Stamford Bridge, or the Chelsea stadium, Roman Abramovich's former team, for those who want to read the message between the lines.

In February, Shevchenko was the star of a gala evening in Milan organized to finance the reconstruction of the stadium in Irpin', a city he visited, remaining very impressed by meeting some children. The necessary amount was 600,000 euros and AC Milan, the team that transformed the Ukrainian striker into the global footballer we all know today, paid 150,000. But the former Ballon d'Or did not stop there and with another 60 thousand euros he financed "Together for Ukraine", a project carried out by the ISMU Foundation, Codes and Integration Project, in collaboration with the Municipality of Milan. The infoline, 020205, was created to favor a better inclusion of new arrivals in the city fabric and to promote an integration which the Ukrainian and host communities can benefit from.

Over the past year and a half Ukrainian football has experienced the forced exile of the war and the championship, won once again by Shakhtar Donetsk (title number fourteen, minus two from Dinamo Kyiv), was played behind closed doors with matches often interrupted by air raid alarms, a dystopian and perhaps useless condition but necessary to demonstrate that Ukraine is moving forward and that it does not bow to the invasion by the Russian army. The orange-colored club, famous for its exploits in the Champions League and for having won the UEFA Cup in 2009, has meanwhile moved its youth sector abroad. Ukraine, in fact, is one of those European countries capable of producing football talent with continuity and it also demonstrated it at the last Under 21 European Championship in which the Gialloblù team reached the semifinal against Spain. That team included Heorhiy Sudakov, 20, a Shakhtar midfielder who just a year ago sent one of his youth coaches a photo of him hiding in an air-raid bunker with the head of his pregnant wife Lisa resting on his shoulder.

In Bucha, another place visited by Shevchenko in the role of testimonial for united24, which closely resembles United 26 at the next North American World Cup, seventy percent of the sports infrastructure was destroyed and with them the stadium. They probably won't be the first to be rebuilt once the war is over, but football is useful because it unites, two testimonials like Andriy Shevchenko and Oleksandr Zinchenko, the past and present of Ukrainian football glories are very powerful and the message is clear: Ukraine does not know what will happen tomorrow, but it knows that tomorrow there will be.

For this reason, on August 5 the charity match, to rebuild the Chernihiv high school, will be broadcast by both DAZN and Sky, whoever wants can buy the ticket directly on the site, otherwise they can make a donation. Sandwiched between Tananai's Tango and De André's Girotondo: “There are too many holes, Marcondiro'ndera there are too many holes, who will fill them? We won't be able to play Marcondiro'ndera anymore, we won't be able to play Marcondiro'ndà anymore. And you, to have fun, go a little further, go and have fun where there won't be war”. Which is what Ukrainian football did to survive and keep hoping, learning that "Football is the most important thing of the unimportant things".

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