A footballer in Spain has claimed he is willing to put his career on hold to go to war for Ukraine against Russia.
Russia declared war on Ukraine on Thursday with the situation in Eastern Europe deteriorating with Ukraine under attack from its geographical neighbour.
Football has already made symbolic gestures to condemn Russia’s aggression with Paris replacing Saint Petersburg as the host city for this season’s Champions League final.
On Thursday, Napoli and Barcelona players came together to display a ‘Stop War’ banner ahead of their Europa League clash in the Italian city.
Yet the issue is naturally an urgent one for the diaspora of Ukrainian footballers who ply their trade abroad with their nation in a perilous situation.
Sporting Gijon defender Vasyl Kravets has been excused from training with his teammates as the player gave a heartfelt interview where he has condemned the situation in the country.
The left-back has been capped by Ukraine up to Under-21 level and has spent time in La Liga with parent club Leganes, but he is willing to pause his football career.
Kravets told an interview with Radio Marca : “They are killing people, civilians, in hospitals… it’s all Putin’s fault, I don’t want to say it’s Russia’s fault, but Putin’s.
“We are a country that wants to live in peace. We don’t want to attack anyone, we want to live well and calm.”
Kravets continued that while he had no experience in handling weaponry and was opposed to violence, he was willing to return to Ukraine to help his nation’s resistance.
“I tell the truth: I want to go to war and help my people,” he added. “But I can’t help because I don’t know how to shoot, how to move, how to reload a gun…but the truth is that I want to help.
“If I could go, I would – to defend my country. It is obligatory for the heart of Ukrainians.”
The 24-year-old continued: “Almost all our airports are blocked. If my country needs everyone to defend our country, I’m leaving. I’ll talk to Sporting and I’ll leave.”
The player went on to describe the difficult situation with his family, who remain in Ukraine and who may have their life at risk due to the situation.
“I call and say: ‘cheer up’ and they say ‘thank you’ but I can’t do anything else. And after 30 minutes… I call again,” Kravets added.
“I don’t sleep at all. My mother calls me, she hears gunshots… I’m training but I only think about my country, my family…
“My wife cries 8 or 10 times a day, it’s incredible, they are scared to death.”