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Emergency shelters, air alarms and no spectators — Ukraine gets ready to resume football in August

During air alarms, matches will be stopped - football players, coaches and the entire staff will be quickly moved to the shelter (Image courtesy: @upl_official)

The new season of the Ukrainian Premier League football championship will kick off next month even as the ongoing hostilities with neighbouring Russia continue to intensify not too far from the country's capital Kyiv.

The tournament will begin on August 23, on the Day of the National Flag, as the country celebrates the 31st anniversary of its independence.

However, unlike the previous editions, organising this year's Premier League championship will not just be the sole responsibility of the country's Ministry of Youth Sports and the Ukrainian Football Association.

Ukraine's Ministry of Defence, Internal Affairs, Economy, the National Police, the State Emergency Service, regional and Kyiv city military administrations have been roped in to develop the procedure for organising and holding competitions under martial law.

"While we are agreeing on the details, I can say for sure: the matches will be held on the territory of Ukraine, without spectators, with the permission of the local military administrations and with mandatory observance of all safety rules," announced Ukraine's Minister of Youth and Sports Vadym Guttsait.


Ukraine's Sports Minister Vadym Guttsait at the meeting (Image courtesy: Ministry of Sports, Ukraine)

Ensuring the concept of 'safety first', the Ukrainian government has issued several guidelines for holding the tournament. The must-have includes a fully-equipped place of shelter near the stadiums and mandatory presence of representatives of local military administrations, medical teams and emergency services.
During air alarms, matches will be stopped – football players, coaches and the entire staff will be quickly moved to the shelter.

"It is very important to restore big football, like other national championships, in Ukraine. We continue to compete and cheer. We continue to fight and win. Despite everything, Ukrainian sports and the will to win on all fronts cannot be stopped. We stand firmly on the sports front," Guttsait emphasised.

As per the latest FIFA rankings, the men's football team from Ukraine is ranked 27th in the world and women's team at the 34th spot.

Last month, during a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, a protocol decision was made regarding the organisation and holding of sports competitions in Ukraine under martial law.

This meant organisation of sports events in certain areas of Ukraine without the presence of spectators.

Guttsait had said then that competitions are being resumed for the purpose of quality training of athletes of the national sports teams of Ukraine for participation in major international sports competitions.

Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach visited Kyiv following an invitation by the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine.

Accompanied by Guttsait and IOC Member and President of the Ukraine National Olympic Committee Sergii Bubka, Bach met around 100 athletes from the Ukrainian team at the Olympic Training Centre. 

Later as he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Bach committed to continuing and even strengthening the IOC's support for Ukrainian athletes, with a special view to the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026, and their respective qualifying events.

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