The weekend is for religion. Besides the numerous churches, this includes the temples of sporty entertainment as well. The war in Ukraine had a severe impact on the professional football clubs from Donetsk and Luhansk, forcing them to relocate their venues. We visited one of them at their temporary home and it has a quite controversial story to tell.
The Donbass region is famous for coal-mining and steel industry, comparable to the Ruhr region in Germany. Football clubs take up this tradition, such as Schalke 04 or Erzgebirge Aue in Germany, as well as Shakthar Donetsk in Ukraine. Since billionaire Rinat Achmatov, who is from Donetsk, took over the club in 1996, it became so successfull, that it was able to tackle the former decades-lasting dominance of Dinamo Kiev and is now the second best club in Ukraine behind Dinamo. In 2009, Shakhtar won the UEFA Cup Final against Werder Bremen in Istanbul and has repeatedly participated in the UEFA Champions League. Jakob Preuss made an award-winning movie about the story of the club in the title season 2008/09: „The other Chelsea“
As a result of the fights in Donezk, in which also the Donbass Arena was damaged, Shakhtar decided to carry out their home matches in Lviv, but after two years they reconsidered this decision, moving on to Charkiw, as this region is closer to Donetsk and the support among the people is higher there.
On Sunday, October 1st, Shakhtar faced Karpaty Lviv on the 11th matchday in the Premyer Liga in the Metalist Stadium of Charkiw (capacity about 40,000 seats) with an attendance of 10,480 spectators. The story of the match is told quickly: Shakhtar dominated its opponent during the entire match and won 2-0. (Highlights of the match by Shakhtar TV on YouTube).
Our Professor Timm Beichelt does a significant amount of research on the cultural and social aspects of football, naming the Viadrina Summer School 2012 „The Culture of Football: Passion, Power, Politics“ as an example. I was delighted to attend the match together with him (admission: 30 – 120 Hryvnias ~ 1 – 4 Euros per ticket) and we gathered some impressions.