Ukrainian video-game vendor Roman Kryvyi sat up close to a TV in a kebab shop, fresh from a football game on a snow-covered field in suburban Kyiv, as intermittent city power returned just in time for Tuesday’s World Cup game between Wales and England.
“England has supported us militarily,” Kryvyi said, ignoring the fact that England and Wales are both parts of the United Kingdom, whose government has generously supported Ukraine with firepower and other assistance.
With their team failing to reach the finals this year, many Ukrainian football fans are rallying behind European countries that have backed Ukraine’s fight against Moscow’s forces, or backed teams with greats such as Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo or Argentina’s Lionel Messi.
Running around a field can provide players with camaraderie while also increasing body heat, and Kryvyi says simply: “Life must go on.” Kryvyi and teammate Hlib Kuian, 21, were unsure whether they would be able to see the England-Wales match, as were many other fans in Ukraine.
On top of the deaths and injuries, Russian military strikes in recent weeks have destroyed power plants, disrupted internet services, and impacted basic necessities like water and heating. He claimed that the only alternative to going to the game was watching it on his phone’s small screen.
Despite their enthusiasm for watching the World Cup, Kuian and Kryvyi would rather be on the field themselves. In yet another display of the legendary Ukrainian resourcefulness, the teams purchased and strung up lights to illuminate the field, and powered them with an old — and recharged — car battery on the sideliner. “I know the Russian Federation wants me to live this way.”