- The captain of Ukraine’s national soccer team has called for Russia to be cut off from the rest of the sporting world.
- “It is a terrorist country,” said Andriy Yarmolenko.
- Russia has been banned from all UEFA and FIFA competitions since its invasion of Ukraine began in February.
Andriy Yarmolenko, the captain of Ukraine’s men’s national soccer team, has called for Russia to be “totally isolated” from the rest of the sporting world after UEFA confirmed the country would be excluded from qualification for the 2024 European Championships.
“My opinion regarding Russian football, sports, absolutely everything — this country should be isolated from the whole world, because it is a terrorist country,” Yarmolenko told reporters on the eve of Ukraine’s Nations League match against Scotland on Wednesday.
“Every day they kill Ukrainians, our children. Therefore, there can be no question of any sport.”
Russia has been banned from all UEFA and FIFA competitions since its invasion of Ukraine began in February.
However, Bosnia and Herzegovina has agreed to play a friendly against Russia in St. Petersburg in November, a decision which has prompted backlash from a number of Bosnian internationals.
“Everyone in the national team of Ukraine wants only one thing – to punish this country as hard as possible,” added Yarmolenko. “Therefore, we are only in favor of simply isolating them from the rest of the world. I will be happy if they are excluded not only from football, but also from all possible competitions.”
Yarmolenko scored the opening goal as Ukraine beat Scotland 3-1 in June in what was the country’s first competitive fixture since the start of the invasion.
Ahead of that match, Ukraine’s Oleksandr Zinchenko burst into tears at a press conference as he pleaded for Russia’s invasion of his country to stop.
Zinchenko also said that he and his team would fight to bring joy to Ukraine’s people through soccer amid the conflict.
Seven months on, Yarmolenko said the motivation of the team has not changed.
“Nothing has changed, there is a war going on in our country,” said the 32-year-old. “We want to bring at least some joy to our fans, Ukrainians, with our game.
“We are playing now for our people, for all those who are now in Ukraine and just want to distract themselves from the war. We must make Ukrainians have at least a small smile on their faces, at least for 90 minutes.”