Seven times in a row children of Donbas conflict participants were joining football players on the field in T-shirts saying “My dad is a hero”. The football players would wear T-shirts like that too. That is, until football club Shakhtar in their match on Nov. 25 refused to do so, and made the children come onto the field in plain T-shirts.
The move outraged football fans of the Kharkiv City Patriots, The Club, and the National Corps, who, on the evening of Nov. 28, stopped the bus of the football team near the stadium in Kharkiv to talk to the players, according to the Facebook page of Troublemakers & Ultras Action.
The activists accused the team of having anti-Ukrainian moods and acting in the interests of their pro-Russian fans who stayed in occupied Donetsk. They insisted it wasn’t the first time Shakhtar didn’t seem to support Ukraine. In their turn, the players said that it wasn’t true. They insisted they were helping the Ukrainian Army, only that they weren’t disclosing it, as they don’t need the publicity.
When commenting on the incident for Ukrainian TV channel Football 1, Director of Shakhtar Serhiy Palkin said that it was a provocation and an attempt to draw attention away from “the issue of Mariupol”.
Mariupol football club is in the middle of the scandal for their Internet memes insulting other Ukrainian football teams. The team’s leadership believes they are funny, but not everyone agrees.
“We know for sure, who organized this thing. We know for sure that now some people want to draw attention away from the latest main topic – Mariupol. This is why they organize such things, to discredit us. And the saddest part is that those people will use any means. Now they even put forward children to get to their aim,” the Director of Shakhtar said.
He also added that Shakhtar received a letter from the Ukrainian Football Association inviting the team to participate in an event with the children of the Donbas conflict participants. The team immediately responded they would take part.
For their match on Nov. 29, Shakhtar went onto the football field wearing T-shirts depicting the symbol of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and “We are proud” written on them, joined by the children of the soldiers who participated in the Donbas conflict.