Premier League stadiums filled with Ukraine support
On Saturday, soccer teams, players, and fans all over England showed grand displays of solidarity and support for Ukraine and opposition to the war.
Across the Premier League, English soccer teams are showing support for Ukraine and displaying anti-war messages. Stadiums across the country were filled with blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. All 20 Premier League teams as well as EFL and WSL took part in the gestures this weekend.
Soccer teams support for Ukraine
The Russian invasion on Ukraine has seen widespread opposition and many sports teams are using their platform to demonstrate their opposition as well as their support for the country of Ukraine.
Big screens reading "Football Stands Together" were displayed throughout the stadiums. Leicester fans held a banner, which read, "We Stand with Ukraine" and a picture of the Ukrainian flag ahead of the game against Leeds. Several teams held a moment of silence to honor the lives lost. All 20 team captains wore blue and yellow armbands. Ahead of the Women's Continental Cup, Chelsea and Manchester City's captains Millie Bright and Ellen White, placed blue and yellow wreaths on the field. Some stadiums held bucket donations to aid in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
The displays were plentiful and the message strong. When Burnley welcomed Chelsea to Turf Moore on Saturday, chairman Alan Pace spoke about the supporting messages:
"I believe at times like this, football has the power to unite and send a clear message. We were proud to welcome members of the local Ukrainian community to Turf Moor this week and I want to send my support to all those affected within the local area."
Tension amongst teams and Russian discrimination
The messages at the Burnley vs Chelsea game were interrupted by chants in support of Chelsea's Russian owner, Roman Abramovich, who announced on Wednesday that he would sell the club amidst accusations that he has ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin. He has denied those claims and said that he would donate the proceeds from the club to victims of the war in Ukraine.
Chelsea's head coach Thomas Tuchel said it was inappropriate for fans to chant Abramovich's name in that moment as the focus should have been on support for Ukraine.
"We do it for Ukraine, there is no second opinion about the situation there," Tuchel said. "They have our thoughts and our support; we should stand together as a club. It's not the moment for other messages."
Though it's clear that there is a grand support for Ukraine, Everton Ukrainian defender Vitaliy Mykolenko has expressed frustration that there has not been this same support for the Russian soccer teams. He has also publicly condemned the Russian captain Artem Dzyuba and his team (in an Instagram post) for their silence in the matter. Dzyuba has since taken to Instagram in response, to show that he is indeed opposed to the war and the discrimination he's witnessed as an outcome. Manchester City's Ukrainian defender Oleksander Zinchenko responded to the comments:
"Evil should be punished on all platforms that are available to society. We will be knocking on your door with the sanctions with even more aggression than you do when you cross our borders with ammunition. Stopping the occupation is the single main aim of all our actions."