“A Global Day We all Became Soccer Fans”
It was a different day in sports.
Not so much about the Padres-Dodgers struggles suddenly.
Not so much because Golden State and Boston opened the NBA finals.
Not so much about the wild Edmonton-Colorado NHL playoff game
In Glasgow, Scotland, we saw something we could have never imagined.
A World Cup soccer qualifying game, cancelled because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, was finally played 3-months later.
It was Ukraine-vs-Scotland, a game postponed because of the invasion of Kiev and all those other cities 99-days ago.
It’s a story that has not gotten much coverage.
Ukraine’s team was transported out as the missile landings began. The team was moved to Slovenia, a tiny Mid-Europe neighbor, who opened up their training facilities to the Ukraine side for the better part of 7-weeks.
Ukraine practiced among themselves with help from Slovenia. There were no friendly games. They went about their work, knowing their homeland was being destroyed from the air, leveled by tanks, its citizens murdered by genocide.
And yet they stayed and trained, and got ready to play.
FIFA, which had expelled Russia and Belarus from qualifying games, took the 3-teams in the group and reset the schedule.
Ukraine would play Scotland first, the winner would play at Wales, and that winner would qualify for the World Cup in Qatar to face the United States in game one in November.
The Scottish side had the home field advantage, though half the stadium was made up of Ukrainian citizens who came from other Euro countries and from the US and Canada.
And the amazing happened on a Wednesday night in Glasgow. The displaced team, its country under seige, wore their bright yellow jerseys and put on a spectacular display.
They scored on a goal mouth scramble…scored on a header shot in traffic and capped it off with an empty net deflection. They won, as players ran around the field with the Blue-Yellow Ukraine Flag. The Scottish players stood and clapped in a salute to the winners.
And at the podium, the captain of Ukraine held a flag, and said ‘this win is for our grieving families and our soldiers’.
The whole soccer world should embrace what Ukraine did like the fans in that stadium did.
The whole free world is embracing the Ukraine government in its fight to keep democracy alive.
What a day in soccer, a global day we should all become fans of Ukraine, its players, its population, its president..