Russia-Ukraine War

Ukraine displays destroyed stadium stand in Germany ahead of Euro 2024 opener

The display in Germany highlights Ukraine's ongoing conflict back home

Ukrainian stand
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

The Ukraninian soccer federation unveiled an installation in Munich of a stadium stand destroyed in the war back home to highlight the ongoing conflict ahead of the team's first match at the European Championship on Monday.

Parts of a stand from Kharkiv’s Sonyachny stadium that was built for Euro 2012 — which Ukraine co-hosted — was displayed in a square in Munich ahead of the team’s opener against Romania.

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The stadium was destroyed by Russian troops in May 2022 and is part of an interactive installation highlighting that 500 sports infrastructure facilities in Ukraine have suffered from Russian bombings and missile strikes during the war.

“Today we’re going to start our games,” said former Ukraine coach and striker Andriy Shevchenko, who is the president of the country’s soccer federation. “One team on the field but a million soldiers who stay and defend Ukraine.

“We are all together. We play today for the country. We play today for the people who defend our lives and our country.”

The stadium was the training base for the Netherlands team during Euro 2012. Ukraine also trained there ahead of the last European Championship, where it reached the quarterfinals in its most successful campaign to date.

“Learning that the stadium was destroyed felt like finding out your home was ruined,” said Shevchenko, who was Ukraine's coach at Euro 2020.

The stand and installation will be taken around to different German cities with the next stop being Düsseldorf, where Ukraine plays its next Group E match against Slovakia on Friday.

“It’s very important that we show during the war that in the country, we continue our lives,” the 47-year-old Shevchenko added. “Sport is a big part of our society. It’s a very powerful tool, but in good hands.

“The participation of Ukrainian team today it’s very important message for the rest of the world that we continue to live and we’re going to fight, but not only fight we’re going to do our normal life and try to be part of European society and the world society who share the same values of their freedom and democracy with us.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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