Zelensky slams Super League in letter of thanks to UEFA’s Ceferin
AS has had access to a letter in which Volodymyr Zelensky thanks the UEFA president for the body’s support for Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of the country.
In a letter seen by AS, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has written to UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin to thank him for the European governing body’s support amid the country’s war with Russia.
Russia excluded from Euro 2024, UEFA has confirmed
On Tuesday, UEFA confirmed that Russia continue to be barred from international competitions and will be excluded from the 2024 European Championship, whose qualifying draw is to be held in October.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both UEFA and FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, announced in February that they were suspending all Russian teams - national and club - from international competitions.
Confirmation of Russia’s exclusion from Euro 2024 came a day after Ceferin spoke to Zelensky by telephone to convey the body’s full backing for Ukraine.
Zelensky backs Ceferin over European Super League
Writing to Ceferin on Tuesday, Zelensky thanked the UEFA president for the ongoing suspension of Russian teams, and for the organisation’s support in the restart of the Ukrainian league, which resumed in August.
The Ukrainian president also spoke of his backing for UEFA in its battle against the creation of a breakaway European Super League. Soccer is “about hope, solidarity and joy”, he wrote, adding: “It is more than money, more than the privilege of individuals.”
Zelesnky’s letter to Ceferin:
“Dear Mr. President! It was a pleasure for me to have a telephone conversation with you on 19 September 2022. On 23 August this year, on the Day of the National Flag of Ukraine, we resumed our national football championship - the Ukrainian Premier League for the 2022/23 season, which is a significant event for us. After all, during the full-scale war of Russia against our country, the entire Ukrainian people heroically defend their homeland, defend democracy, freedom, sovereignty, having a great desire to live with these values in the family of European countries.
“It was extremely important for my people that we as Ukrainians continue our league. Football competitions are another manifestation of courage and resilience in today’s extremely difficult conditions. I can say with great pride that now Ukrainian football embodies courage and demonstrates a thirst for victory, despite the crimes committed by the Russian aggressors in Ukraine.
“Thank you, Mr. President, for your personal support and UEFA’s decision, made at the end of February this year, regarding the termination of cooperation with the Gazprom company, the relocation of the UEFA Champions League final from Saint Petersburg, and the suspension of the participation of Russian national teams and clubs in all competitions under under the auspices of UEFA. We greatly appreciate your support and help from UEFA, thanks to which the Ukrainian Football Association and our national league are able to move forward. Thank you for continuing to offer more opportunities to the Ukrainian people, especially our youth. I am sure that we will demonstrate to the whole world how Ukrainians rally, passionately support our clubs and national team, competing in the Nations League and UEFA club competitions, despite rockets and bombs, to defend Ukrainian pride, unity and dignity.
“In this context, I wish that sentiments like those behind the so-called European Super League were put to an end, because the essence of football is also about hope, solidarity and joy, and it is more than money, more than the privilege of individuals. These are not only the foundations of the European sports model - something that we must strive to preserve collectively, but also an important component of democracy and the development of Europe. Football has become a way of life for many citizens and revives these values in society. This is what football can do and will do for us, for Ukraine.
“We will win. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes!”