Barcelona forward Robert Lewandowski will be flying the Ukrainian flag in the 2022 World Cup by wearing the war-torn country’s armband in Qatar. Lewandowski was gifted the Ukrainian armband by former Chelsea, and AC Milan striker Andriy Schevchenko in Poland’s national stadium in Warsaw during the international break.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many countries have demonstrated solidarity with Ukraine, a former member of the defunct Russian-led Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
In addition to an abrupt disruption of most public events in Ukraine, football was temporarily called off by the Ukrainian government as security concerns mounted amid the Russian invasion. Fixtures in the Russian Premier League were also postponed.
Currently, some semblance of normalcy has returned, with some major public events resuming as the intensity of the war gradually dies down. Football has been one of the events that have returned with safety measures adopted to evacuate players from the pitch in case of an emergency. The Ukrainian football stadia are now kitted with air raid signals and bomb shelters.
Since the beginning of the war, the Ukrainian people have received solidarity from Western countries, with the UK and US government leading other Western countries to deliver both humanitarian and military support to the Ukrainian government.
Apart from slamming sanctions on the Vladimir Putin-led Russian government, the UK government took drastic steps to eliminate all forms of Russian links in English football. Former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was ousted and forced to hand off the club for his alleged ties to Putin.
Lewandowski is among some football celebrities who have shown solidarity with the Ukrainian people. The Barcelona forward had personally lobbied for an international match between Russia and Poland to be called off. He has also been vocal against the Russian war and had led the Polish national team to boycott a World Cup Qualifier against Russia.
Recently, Robert Lewandowski and Andriy Shevchenko, a former Ukrainian football star, met in Warsaw, Poland, during the International break to further demonstrate their unyielding support for the people of Ukraine as the war continues. Since the war in Ukraine started on February 27, Poland has reportedly taken in a lot of refugees fleeing the crisis.
Andriy Shevchenko was captured in a video where he gifted Robert Lewandowski a Ukraine captain’s armband. Andriy Schevchenko issued Ukrainian captain to the former Borussia Dortmund star, who received it with delight.
Reacting to the gift, Lewandowski promised to wear the Ukrainian armband in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
“I am going to wear Ukraine’s colors at the Qatar World Cup”, the Polish national team captain said.
“As both a player and a man, I support peace and I think these symbolic gestures are important.”
Lewy expressed his solidarity with the people of Ukraine by adding, “I will wear Shevchenko’s armband at the World Cup in November as a reminder that the people of Ukraine are not alone and remain in our thoughts. Being here with Andriy means a lot to me”.
Appreciating Robert Lewandowski for his kind gesture and love for the people of Ukraine, Andriy Schevchenko said; “I want to thank Robert Lewandowski for this act of solidarity and for all his work on behalf of my country.”
Ukraine did not qualify for the 2022 World Cup, but Lewy has pledged to fly the country’s flag wearing the armband.