Shakhtar on the road again with important mission to fulfil

MANCHESTER, England: Shakhtar Donetsk aren’t any strangers to a nomadic existence, however the membership’s newest journey is taking them throughout Europe in an try to elevate cash for Ukrainians affected by the battle with Russia, led by a person who has seen all of it earlier than.

Escaping from Kyiv in late February as Russian bombs fell in the Ukrainian capital introduced all of it flooding again for Shakhtar’s director of soccer Darijo Srna.

Srna first skilled warfare as a toddler when the former Yugoslavia broke aside in the Nineteen Nineties, earlier than the Croatian left his dwelling in Donetsk whereas a participant at Shakhtar as Russian-backed forces entered the area in 2014, the place they continue to be.

A nomadic existence started as Shakhtar moved to the western metropolis of Lviv, then settling in Kyiv earlier than the Russians again prompted them to transfer on.

“War is not a nice experience in any way, I should know,” Srna, 39, advised Reuters in a Zoom interview.

“In warfare there isn’t a winner. You can rebuild colleges or hospitals however you can not carry again human beings.

“I keep reading articles saying Russia invaded Ukraine 50, 60 days ago, but they came in 2014 when we lost our homes, our stadium and some of our people. We know now we must do something more to help.”

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says shouldn’t be designed to occupy territory however to destroy its southern neighbour’s army capabilities and seize what it regards as harmful nationalists.

After agreeing with the authorities that Ukrainian gamers didn’t have to keep and battle the Russians, Srna, who spent 15 years as a participant at the membership, has organised for Shakhtar to play a sequence of matches on their “Global Tour for Peace”.

Football’s travellers have performed matches in Poland, Turkey and Greece, earlier than heading to Srna’s dwelling nation of Croatia to take on Hajduk Split on Sunday. All proceeds can be despatched to assist stricken Ukrainians again dwelling.

“In every situation we must find a better way,” Srna added. “Everyone supported us – our president, the president of the Ukraine FA and UEFA.

“Footballers are extra helpful on the pitch than someplace with a gun. Football can unite the world. We discover a means to assist with shopping for drugs and different vital issues. We are concerned to carry one other 120 youngsters to Croatia into our houses.

“I’m so proud of all Ukrainians because I lived there 19 years and I will go back soon. They are heroes.”


Getting out was not simple as Russian forces attacked the capital, with former coach Paulo Fonseca caught up in the mass exodus. Again, Srna and Shakhtar got here to the rescue.

“After I left (AS) Roma I moved back to Kyiv with my wife who is from Ukraine,” the Portuguese advised Reuters.

“The week earlier than (the warfare) I used to be on vacation, however returned early to get our household out of Kyiv. The downside was I had a flight out the morning the warfare began.

“Darijo called me and said it is best not to leave today, come and stay in their hotel with the players. We stayed in the bunker at night, until we decided to leave on a 25-hour minibus to the Romanian border. This is nothing compared to what others have been through.”

Now out of Kyiv, the membership’s mission stays to do every thing doable to assist these much less lucky nonetheless caught up in the battle.

On Tuesday the Ukrainian Premier League 2021-22 season was suspended due to the ongoing warfare, making it unsure when Shakhtar will return dwelling.

Their true dwelling, nevertheless, has not modified. Srna and everybody concerned at the membership nonetheless hopes that sooner or later, at any time when which may be, they will return to Donetsk.

“We are miners (the club’s nickname). Shakhtar will always be from Donetsk, it doesn’t matter which kind of flag they will put there,” Srna added. “Shakhtar is from Donetsk, and that’s it.

“They cannot take this from us.”

Shakhtar on the road again with important mission to fulfil

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