Ukraine: Footballers Struggle to Keep an Eye on the Ball
My interview to Miguel Veloso, Portuguese star of Dynamo Kyiv about football and war.
The piece was published on Eurasianet.org.
Professional athletes try to stay away from politics as a general rule. But in Ukraine these days, it’s increasingly difficult to do so. Players in Ukraine’s Premier League, the country’s top football division, say they are having a tough time concentrating on the game.
Helping to sow confusing in the Premier League is the fact that a couple of top teams, including front-runner Shakhtar Donetsk, are based in eastern Ukraine, currently the epicenter of disturbances kicked up by pro-Russian agitators. In addition, two of the 15 teams now competing in the top division play their home games in Crimea, a peninsula that Russia recently claimed as its own.
Conditions are especially bewildering for foreign players, such as Miguel Veloso, a 27-year-old midfielder who plays for Ukraine’s most storied football team, FC Dynamo Kyiv. Veloso is also expected to be a major contributor on Portugal’s national team in the upcoming World Cup tournament, to be held this summer in Brazil.
(click here to keep on reading the interview)