Jo compete Ukraine in 2022 is a tricky thing. What is a worthy victory and what is really just? The gigantic public vote for Ukrainian Eurovision entry was one thing, but international Soccer elevates emotions (and temperaments) to a whole new level.
Luckily for Scotland, facing a World Cup qualifier against the Ukrainians, the mood at Hampden Park was not one of pity, but of joy.
Artem, a young Ukrainian who lived in Edinburgh long before the Russian invasion, said the game means more than just proving that Ukraine and Ukrainians survive.
“Be in Scotland, there weren’t many opportunities to celebrate being Ukrainian without the war as a backdrop,” he explained. “For example, there are quite a few events, like demonstrations and protests and sort of gatherings, with a lot of refugees attending in a few different towns in Scotland where they have settled.
“But it’s hard to attend, not because of the logistics, but because it’s mentally difficult to face the reality of a lot of these people and process everything that’s going on. So a game like this one is a great opportunity to celebrate being Ukrainian, and not necessarily forgetting about the war, but just being there.
War aside, it was still a football game, which means joy is also joy. A grand prize hung ahead of Scotland – a victory would have brought them closer to their first World Cup since the 1998 tournament.
But in the end it didn’t, with Ukraine securing a 2-0 lead that eventually led to a 3-1 win that drove the estimated 3,500 fans at the stadium wild.
Earlier, many at Hampden Park had tears in their eyes as the Ukrainian team entered the pitch, each draped in a Ukrainian flag, causing a deafening roar.
Ukraine’s national anthem was warmly applauded by the tartan army who then sang Flower of Scotland before the long-awaited, albeit rather nervous, start of the match.
In December, before Russia began his brutal and unprovoked assault on his neighbour, it was Ukraine manager Oleksandr Petrakov who had to consider Scotland’s feelings after he was seen jumping for joy when he found out who his side were up against had been drawn.
“Yes, I was happy when the draw was made,” he said later, “but it was a natural reaction because we weren’t drawn against Italy or Portugal. “We weren’t seeded. We could have had a horrible draw, so of course I was glad we got Scotland. We avoided the really big teams.
“That’s it. It wasn’t an affront to Scotland. I apologize if people thought I looked too happy!
The world has changed since then, including opening its arms to Ukrainian refugees – although applications for the UK’s already confusing sponsorship scheme have slowed, meaning Ukrainians leaving areas currently under fire are at a huge disadvantage. compared to the first. vague.
But the goodwill, for what it is worth, remains, and the sport will be better for it. For Artem, part of whose family is now reunited for the first time since the conflict began, the game and its outcome transcend anything that has happened since before Russia began the war.
“For me, it’s celebrating belonging to both the Ukrainian community and the Scottish community,” he said. “It’s not really about who wins. Because after all, sport is more of a celebration of one of the things it means to be human.
Ukraine end Scotland’s World Cup dreams in emotional qualifier
Source link Ukraine end Scotland’s World Cup dreams in emotional qualifier