Andriy Shevchenko wants UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin to visit him in Ukraine and reconsider letting Russia return to international football

Andriy Shevchenko has called on Aleksander Ceferin to visit him in Ukraine, so that the UEFA president can see for himself the devastation caused by the ongoing attacks from Russia, and change his mind about Russian re-integration into international football.

In an exclusive UK television interview with Sky Sports News, the newly-elected president of Ukraine’s Football Association says UEFA and FIFA are wrong to allow Russia’s U17s teams back into international competition, saying it gives entirely the wrong message when Russian troops continue their invasion of his homeland.

“I would like to invite everyone who makes those decisions – within UEFA’s committee, within the executive committee, and the president Aleksander Ceferin,” Shevchenko told Sky Sports News chief reporter Rob Dorsett.

“Before he (Ceferin) makes the decision (to re-admit any Russian teams), come to Ukraine, and then see everything, visit us, talk about our problems, and after that, make your decision.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin during a UEFA Nations League Finals draw

“I want to speak. I want to show the current situation in Ukraine, because since the war started, the situation only gets worse. I don’t see any reason to give that opportunity for a return of the Russian teams.

“It is not going to change. The war is continuing. Every day it’s missiles attacks, people dying.

“We need more pressure on Russia to stop the war and my statement is always going to be exactly the same. I’m very against that (Russian athletes being allowed to compete internationally).”

Mourinho brought Shevchenko to Chelsea from AC Milan in 2006
Jose Mourinho brought Shevchenko to Chelsea from AC Milan in 2006

The former Ballon d’Or winner was elected leader of Ukraine’s FA on Thursday and says his priority is to build international support for the sporting boycott of Russia, whilst also rebuilding his country’s sporting infrastructure.

“Already, around 350 stadiums have been destroyed,” he explains. “Five days ago, there was a big missile attack on the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv.

“I was here and the stadium which had just been built in 2022, a brand new stadium with an academy, was destroyed by missiles.

“We don’t have a choice, we just have to carry on. But we need the support of the rest of the world who want to help Ukraine and we have to find a way to develop. We have to find a way to continue to believe and work hard and every day I will wake up and just do the job the best that I can.”

Former striker and coach of the Ukraine national soccer team Andriy Shevchenko, left, and American actor Liev Schreiber speak to media in front of a house which have been destroyed by Russia bombardment in Borodianka, near Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Andriy Shevchenko (L) and American actor Liev Schreiber speaking to media near Kyiv

Whilst still travelling between the UK and Ukraine, the former Chelsea and AC Milan forward will now base himself in Kyiv to pursue his new role, leaving his family back in the South East of England.

Shevchenko says it is vital that football continues in Ukraine, despite the difficulties. One Ukrainian Premier League game in Dnipro before Christmas lasted four hours and 36 minutes – the longest in the league’s history.

Regular air raid sirens mean games are interrupted, and players have to head into the shelters for safety, before returning to complete matches when the all clear is sounded.

Shevchenko fears an entire generation of young Ukrainian footballers has been lost, because of the war.

“We have a very big issue about the young generation of football players. Many have left the country obviously for the reason of the war,” he explained.

Andriy Shevchenko was unsuccessful at Genoa

He says many more have given up football to fight for their country.

“We have to find the connection with all these families and players and continue to engage with them, to make sure they continue to have a relationship with Ukraine, for the future,” he added.

“(We need them to) come back, and play for the Ukrainian national team.

Does he fear there might be irreparable damage to Ukraine’s football future?

“Definitely, there will be, if we do not build the system right now.”

Andriy Shevchenko
Andriy Shevchenko speaking on set at Sky Sports News

With such weighty sporting issues to address, and his nation still committed entirely to defending itself, Shevchenko says he feels the weight of responsibility that his new role demands.

“After the full-scale invasions started in Ukraine, you know very well, because we did the first interview in the Sky Sports News studio, three or four days just after the war started,” he recalled.

“Since then, I start to work very closely and work hard for Ukraine. Now, me taking over the football association is a big role, very important. It’s a lot of responsibility. But I think that football has such a big impact in the world and inside of Ukraine and our society.

“I just want to use my profile, my background to help the Ukrainian young generation, the teams, so that everyone can continue to play football, even in such difficult conditions.”

Latest news
Related news