Deported from the Russian bomb, Shakhtar Donetsk accepted his trip

It wasn’t Batman’s voice, though he was what it was, to bring back memories for Darija Serena. It was an air attack siren.

When they exploded in a cafe just after 6am on February 24, Serna was engulfed in terror. His mind was filled with thoughts and memories of his childhood, his first war experience, when the former Yugoslavia split in the 1990s.

Since then, Sakar Sarna, 39, has moved away from his home in Croatia to a prominent career, with the bulk of his time being with the club club Donetsk, Ukraine, where he is currently the Director of Football, and in the Champions League. For sports. Two world cups But in an instant, the siren’s voice made it all return.

“I’m guessing,” he said. “There has been trauma for the rest of your life, of course – within yourself. This is something you try to forget. But you will never forget such things. “

Shakhtar Donetsk was done today by Batman. In 2014, the last time Russian troops invaded Ukraine, the missiles landed at Shakhter’s stadium. Within days, the club packed up and headed west, launching a private existence: to a new home in Lviv, a little west of the country, and then again east, to Kharkiv, before settling in Kiev.

Now the shatter is on the move again. Last week, after receiving special permission to expel men of military age, their players and coaches arrived in Istanbul. Due to the suspension of the second half of the Ukrainian season as a result of the war, Shakhtar will soon become a touring team, playing representative games – was the first. Saturday in Greece – Paying attention to Ukraine’s plight and raising money for war efforts.

Shakhtar Donetsk never stopped being a team. Now, hopefully, it will be a sign, too.

“I don’t know what kind of team we could be compared to in football history,” Serna said. “No other team has ever felt or lived the way we have in the last eight years.

Shakhtar officials were convinced that there would be no war, until Russia assembled troops and equipment along the Ukrainian border; Even the players started to worry; Until now members of the distressed family call them daily with news, warnings, requests at winter training camps in Turkey.

So in February, Sergey Palkin, chief executive of Shatner, called a meeting to try to address growing concerns.

“I said everything would be fine because the president of Ukraine, everyone was saying there was no problem, no war,” said Palkin.

The team got back to the café. But the pelican was wrong. Three days later, the Russian armies crossed the border, and instead of playing the second half of their league season, the team management suddenly realized that they needed to do a completely different calculation.

While many of Shakhtar’s Ukrainian players relocated to Lviv, which hosted the team when it was first forced to go to Donetsk, a group of more than 50 players and staff members owned the team, owned by Renat Akhmatov. Took refuge From there, timely help and frank phone calls helped create a plan for the club’s foreign players and their families to protect.

Srna was one of the key sources in the debate, which also included the players’ union, the Ukrainian and neighboring football federations and the governing body of sports in Europe, UEFA. He said his own experiences – he was also a member of the team when it first went to safety, in 2014 – served as a guide.

“Unfortunately,” he said sadly, “this is my third war.

Only when the players were heading home to South America and elsewhere did Sarna begin his journey: What a 37-hour drive to Croatia, where most of his family still live, assuring them that he was safe. General Chat Chat Lounge Two family members of her father’s side were killed after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, so it was not just her nerves that needed rest.

After setting up the base, though, Sarna quickly sets out to tackle a new task: how to move a dozen children from outside the café to the detective’s youth academy in harm’s way. The effort was professional but also personal: Many children were just 12 and 13 years old, when they first experienced war.

Hajduk Split, Srna’s first professional club, said it would be ready for the boys to sit down if they could reach the city. Dynamo Zagreb, another Croatia team, said it would provide a bus if suspicious players could reach Ukraine’s border with Hungary. The players and the rest of the Cubs’ traveling party spent two days at Dynamo’s Stadium, Sarna said, where they ate and evaluated doctors before heading to Split.

Today, due to the efforts, more than 80 children, some of them mothers and some aged coaches and members of the medical staff are safely in Croatia, away from the worst horrors of war, from training and playing again.

“I just put myself in their state,” Serna said of her involvement. “I don’t want them to be kids and get bombs and bullets all day.

“I remember when I was a kid, I remember someone gave me chocolates, somebody gave me pills, which gave me water. And that was what was most important.

Like every other corner of the Ukrainian population, Shakhtar has also been pushed into more serious ways by the war. A coach from the team’s academy died when his city was destroyed by Russian troops in the first weeks of the war. Two members of the team’s trading department are armed.

Shakhtar’s training site in Kyiv also bears controversy. Its training departments are equipped with shelling, and deliver artillery fire to the shed where the team has stored training equipment.

The controversy has also brought renewed attention to statistics such as Akhmatov, the richest man in Ukraine. Like the oligarch in Russia, he became very rich – sometimes in the midst of questionable sources – in the wild and unexpected after the Soviet Union’s disintegration. Akhmatov made a point as to why he contributed millions of dollars to the war effort, and he said in an interview that he remained committed to his country and team. “All of our efforts are focused on one thing that is important – to help Ukraine win this war,” he said.

Akhmatov and his football team’s efforts are now linked to the Ukrainian government – relationships that have already helped Shakhtar overcome some unique obstacles. Before it could depart for Turkey, for example, the club needed special government exemptions from the emergency law that prevented military-aged men from emigrating during the war. These approvals finally arrived on Wednesday afternoon. Now that it is fruitful in Istanbul, its visit will serve many functions.

The games begin with one against the Olympiacos in Athens on Saturday, partly because of a diplomatic tool, an opportunity to personalize the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis, to raise money for the country’s military and humanitarian aid for its citizens. To provide

But matches will also play an important role. Many Shakhtar Donetsk players are also members of the Ukrainian national team, and the players will help ensure their fitness before the crucial qualifying game in June for the 2022 World Cup. (Shakhtar’s rival, Dynamo Kyiv) is playing A series of representative games For similar reasons; Both clubs have said that they will call players from other Ukrainian teams to complete their lists, partly because Ukraine has the best chance of progressing to the World Cup in the June game.

The strong team that will be participating in the upcoming tour – matches against Polish and Turkish clubs, and can follow up games against A-list opponents – has a deep lack of international talent: most of them Players are allowed to use. They were temporarily there to sign teams outside Ukraine after the war’s outbreak. Most will never come back. But some, like Brazilian defender Marilyn, have said they will return, and others are considering their options.

“We’re not angry, we’re all human,” Serna said. “It’s important that they are safe and with their family.”

There is a new season in Ukraine, currently, to start in July. With so much damage to the country and the war still spreading, the timetable is little more than a placeholder. When football returns, as it eventually does, nothing will be the same.

It is still unclear whether Donetsk, the home of the Cubs, will remain part of Ukraine, a possibility that could temporarily perpetuate the team’s temporary exile. Whatever the outcome, team officials say Shakhtar will never step back from his roots.

“They can put any flag in Donetsk,” Serna said. “But Shakhtar will always be from Donetsk. It is something that nobody has and nothing can change.

Wherever Shakhtar ends up calling home, whoever plays it periodically, it is impossible to even think of one: playing against Russian opponents. Palkin said he believed that European football officials would ensure that Ukrainian teams do not cross paths with Russia’s opponents in future matches. But he had a simple answer that if Shatner ever faced such a matchup. “We will not play,” he said.

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