Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United và Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)AP



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Ukraine plans to resume competitive football in the country in August despite being under attack by Russia after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave approval.

Andriy Pavelko, the president of Ukraine’s football federation, revealed details to lớn The Associated Press about his talks with Zelenskyy & the heads of FIFA and UEFA about finding a safe way of playing men’s & women’s matches on home soil.

Ukraine was forced to abandon its leagues in February when Russia began an invasion that, according khổng lồ Zelenskyy, has led lớn “at least tens of thousands” of Ukrainian civilians dying và large swaths of many cities & towns being bombed into rubble.

But as Russian forces have been redeployed to the east & south, fighting has subsided in the area near the capital Kyiv and elsewhere. There is optimism thể thao can resume to lớn lift the spirits of the nation, which is trying to lớn qualify for the World Cup on Sunday by winning away at Wales.

“I spoke with our president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, about how important football is to distract,” Pavelko said in an interview with the AP, surrounded by Ukraine jerseys and a tactics board in the team meeting room in Cardiff. “From the children to the old people, everyone is focused on the war. Every day they receive information about deaths, about the impact of the war.

“We spoke about how football has a very big power to lớn help people think about the future because now people, of course, are not in a good mindset. They’re in the worst mood. We spoke about how it would be possible that football could help us to lớn think about the future.”

That is a future with players being able lớn take to lớn the field again in Ukraine lớn provide uplifting sports moments of joy.

“So we took the decision with the president that we would resume the Ukrainian championship in August,” Pavelko said through a translator. “In Ukraine we will play on every level. So the Premier League, and the first and second professional divisions, and women’s championship.

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Pavelko met Zelenskyy before leaving Ukraine for Glasgow khổng lồ see the World Cup playoff semifinal win over Scotland on Wednesday. Pavelko then went on lớn see FIFA President Gianni Infantino in Paris và UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

“I informed them that we will resume the championships in the war time in Ukraine ... Under the bombs and we count on their support,” Pavelko said. “We are discussing the details.”

The government prohibits men from 18 to lớn 60 from leaving Ukraine khổng lồ keep them available for war duties, although footballers have been allowed abroad to lớn play for teams, & Pavelko has flown lớn key meetings. But he did broadcast live to lớn the UEFA Congress in Vienna last month via his phone from a stadium in Chernihiv that had been attacked by Russia, khổng lồ show the damage inflicted.

“We will speak with our military board và the government to discuss how lớn organize it safely,” Pavelko added.

Shakhtar Donetsk was leading the standings when the season was suspended in February và then officially declared over in April, giving it a place in the lucrative group stage of the Champions League next season.

Shakhtar has been living with uncertainty in exile for eight years. The team has not played in Donetsk since năm trước when forced out by a Russian-backed conflict in its trang chủ region of eastern Ukraine, which remains the scene of intense fighting.

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