Ukraine to display destroyed stand in Germany as a reminder to Europe

<span>Sonyachny Stadium in Kharkiv, Ukraine came under heavy shelling in May 2022 and was rendered unusable.</span><span>Photograph: Ukrainian Football Association</span>
Sonyachny Stadium in Kharkiv, Ukraine came under heavy shelling in May 2022 and was rendered unusable.Photograph: Ukrainian Football Association

Ukraine’s campaign at Euro 2024 will be accompanied by a stark reminder of the destruction inflicted on the country’s football scene after their football association was given permission to display part of a destroyed stadium, used during Euro 2012, in German cities.

Sonyachny Stadium in Kharkiv was deployed as a training base for the Netherlands 12 years ago and hosted the 2019-20 Ukraine women’s cup final. It has also served as a facility for the men’s national team. But Kharkiv has been under attack since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and in May 2022 the venue was rendered unusable by heavy shelling.

It is among more than 500 sports facilities to have been damaged by Russian attacks. Before Ukraine begin Group E against Romania at the Munich Football Arena, a section of a stand from Sonyachny Stadium will be displayed at Wittelsbacherplatz. It will be opened by Andriy Shevchenko, the Ukraine FA president, on Monday and supporters will be able to peruse the entire stricken venue using virtual reality headsets. The display will then be transported to Düsseldorf, where Ukraine play Slovakia on Friday.

After Munich buckled under a gargantuan influx of Scots before the tournament’s opening game, the balance of visiting supporters shifted slightly on Sunday as fans from Ukraine and Romania drifted in. The Ukraine manager, Serhiy Rebrov, said in his pre-match press conference that his highly rated team had been urged to show the resolve demonstrated by soldiers in perilous conditions on the frontline.

“All the players, me personally, are getting lots of messages from our fighters, from our soldiers, from our friends who are now fighting for the freedom of Ukraine,” Rebrov said. “I’m sure they are very proud of us, we are very proud of them. They are telling: ‘Show the spirit of Ukraine.’ This tournament is really about the spirit of our country.”

Vitaliy Mykolenko, the Everton left-back, is likely to miss the game after departing a pre-tournament friendly in Moldova early with an injury.