We don’t care about the England result, we just want to forget about the war
UKRAINE’S visit to Wembley tomorrow is about far more than just their bid to reach Euro 2024.
For the thousands of Ukranians living in the UK, it is a chance to get a small feeling of home and remind the world of the terrors being inflicted on those under invasion from Russia.
More than 3,000 tickets have been sold in the away end while The FA have donated a further 1,000 to refugees.
Manager Ruslan Rotan wants his side to offer a shot of hope for those in the stands with family suffering back home, and those watching from afar.
Soldiers on the front line tuned in to watch their World Cup play-off victory over Scotland last year, and it makes a difference – however small.
Stefan Luczka, a British-Ukrainian who is the chairman of the UK Ukrainian Sports Supporters Club, lives in Luton but has an uncle battling on the front line.
He told SunSport: “Any sort of morale boost will help.
“Everything at the moment in terms of Ukraine is negative, in terms of being pummelled and bombarded with missiles.
“Any sort of positivity or morale boost, not just for the guys on the front line it’s just a massive uplift. Any bit of positivity, winning or positive result.
“Sport brings people together, 90 minutes to stop thinking about, ‘When I wake up in the morning, will I still have a house? Will a missile fall on my head or will I need to go and fight because Russia are coming closer and closer?’”
Luczka also hopes that occasions such as tomorrow, as well as any successful qualification for a major tournament, will offer a huge boost to those seeking support as coverage abroad naturally ebbs away over time.
He said: “It would be absolutely phenomenal if we could qualify.
“It is always a massive positive to make a major tournament, but added to that the extra meaning of it because of the war, it would be a massive boost of positivity to Ukrainians around the world.
“It highlights to the rest of the world that Ukrainians are fighting, metaphorically, on the pitch as they are on the front line.”
For a community having to watch their country suffer from afar, Sunday is about far more than just three points towards qualification, however.
Luczka said: “The UK has been phenomenal in its support. That’s why on Sunday I’m not really bothered about the football.
“It’s about Ukrainians getting together and even showing appreciation. If we can get even a message of thanks, for your support.”
There is also ongoing support from the footballing family in England too.
Today, the England Fans team will play a team of Ukrainian supporters in the ‘John Motson Memorial Cup’, raising funds and collecting donations to support those in need in Ukraine.
A similar fundraising fixture was arranged last March, a month after the invasion, which saw England fans raise enough to drive two ambulances to Ukraine, both packed with humanitarian aid essentials, a trip supporters are hoping to repeat ahead of the return fixture in September.
Luczka added: “It is football fans acting in the right spirit, it is what football should be.”
Source: The Sun
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