Football is a priority for fans of the beautiful game Ukraine even during the World Cup war

Fresh out of a football game on a snow-covered field in a Kyiv suburb, Ukrainian video game salesman Roman Kryvyi sat next to the TV in a kebab shop as the city’s electricity returned with outages for Tuesday’s World Cup match between Wales and England. .

For the 22-year-old football fan, there was no question as to which side he would support in the match: he remembers how upset he was when Wales knocked out Ukraine – rolling on the floor in despair and on the verge of tears. qualifying

The grudge did not subside.

“England only! England supported us militarily,” said Kryvyi, ignoring the fact that England and Wales are part of the United Kingdom, which is supporting Ukraine with firepower and other support while trying to repel the Russian invasion. He wants England to go all the way.

Many Ukrainian football fans, whose teams haven’t made it to the finals this year, support European countries that support Ukraine’s fight against the forces of Moscow, or teams with greats like Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo or Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

Others just want to see top-notch gameplay because they appreciate the game.

Ivan Mahyrovskyi, 16, kicked a soccer ball during a match in the midst of a power outage in Irpin, Ukraine, on Tuesday. (Andrew Kravchenko/The Associated Press)

Football for Ukrainians these days lags far behind just survival in order of priority. But sport – as in many parts of the world – can offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. For players, running across a field can offer companionship and churning body heat, and those battered in battle simply say: Life must go on.

Power search, game feeds

Like many fans in Ukraine, Kryvyi and his 21-year-old teammate Hlib Kuian were not sure they would ever see the England v Wales game. Russian military attacks in recent weeks have devastated power plants, rendered internet services uncertain and affected basic needs such as water and heating, in addition to the deaths and injuries they have caused.

Just minutes before England’s 3-0 win on Tuesday evening, Mazza Cafe kebab stall operator Mashrabjan Haydarov noticed the lights were on again in an apartment across the street and turned off the generator outside. turned on his light bulbs and television and went back to the local grid.

A goal was scored while people were playing football during a power outage in Irpin, Ukraine, on Tuesday. (Andrew Kravchenko/The Associated Press)

Then the internet exploded for a moment even though the electricity was back. Friends accustomed to daily mishaps big and small didn’t mind the delay until the service was restarted. In addition, they had to return home just as the match was due to end due to the curfew at 23:00 during the war.

“I don’t have internet at home, so that’s a big problem for me,” said Kuian, an economics student. He said that the only alternative to going out to watch the match was to watch it on the small screen of his cell phone.

Kuian and Kryvyi prefer to be on the field despite all their interest in watching the World Cup.

Demonstrated resourcefulness

As night fell, their crews joined the two in a fenced area in a public park in Irpin, a town that Russian forces occupied earlier this year and where they are accused of carrying out suspected atrocities against civilians.

A man gets on his hoverboard while clearing snow from a field before a football game in Irpin, Ukraine, on Tuesday. (Andrew Kravchenko/The Associated Press)

In another sign of Ukraine’s resourcefulness, which has become legendary in their war-torn country, teams bought and hung lights to illuminate the pitch and powered it with an old – and recharged – car battery on the sidelines.

As the snowflakes continued to fall, a player got on a motorized scooter to row the field.

Time would have preferred to play in Irpin’s larger stadium, but it was destroyed by craters and a nearby cultural center as Ukrainian and Russian forces fought for control of the town.

When it comes to hurdles, power outages, and other troubles in playing football, Kuian takes them one step at a time.

“I have to live with it. I know who did it. [happen]”I know the Russian Federation wants me to live like this.”

Hlib Kuian, 21, changed after a football match in Irpin, Ukraine, on Tuesday. (Andrew Kravchenko/The Associated Press)

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