London: Europe’s footballing world has taken the lead in criticising Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with several top clubs and players voicing concern with gestures and actions to keep the global attention on the human catastrophe unfolding in the country.
Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt lit up its stadium in Ukraine’s national colours of blue and yellow and electronic signs at the ground read “Stop it, Putin!”, while players of Germany’s top football club Bayern Munich wore black armbands. Bayern captain Robert Lewandowski, who is Polish, wore a yellow and blue armband to go with the Ukrainian national colours.
Ahead of their Bundesliga game on Saturday night, Eintracht Frankfurt posted an image of their stadium on Twitter with a huge “Stop it, Putin” message and wrote in German, “(English translation) Both teams gathered for a minute’s silence before kick-off to commemorate the victims of the war in Ukraine. Eintracht Frankfurt stands for peace and against war and violence. Stop it, Putin.”
Ukraine’s football players Vitaliy Mykolenko (Everton) and Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City) embraced before their Premier League game at Goodison Park on Saturday night, which Pep Guardiola’s side won 1-0.
Zinchenko was in tears as the crowd unveiled banners including one that read “We stand with Ukraine”, reports france24.com, while Manchester United and Watford players stood together with a sign saying “peace” in six languages ahead of their game at Old Trafford.
Europe’s football-governing body UEFA has already decided to move the Champions League final from St Petersburg to Paris following Russia’s invasion.
“UEFA shares the international community’s significant concern for the security situation developing in Europe and strongly condemns the ongoing Russian military invasion in Ukraine,” UEFA said in a statement.