Robert Lewandowski: Barcelona and Poland star to put on Ukrainian armband at World Cup



CNN
 — 

Former Ukraine captain and coach Andriy Shevchenko offered Barcelona and Poland star Robert Lewandowski with a Ukrainian armband to put on on the World Cup in Qatar later this 12 months.

Throughout an occasion on the Stadion Narodowy in Warsaw on Tuesday, the 2 famed strikers embraced as Shevchenko mounted the blue and yellow armband to Lewandowski’s arm.

“I’m very proud as a result of I do know what it means to help Ukraine’s folks,” Lewandowski mentioned.

“I do know what it means to battle for freedom, we all know the historical past, our historical past and that’s why it was clear to assist our neighbors, to assist the folks from Ukraine and I’m very proud to put on this armband and to be on this aspect. I’m very glad and really grateful for every thing.”

As neighboring international locations, there are sturdy ties and a shared historical past between Ukraine and Poland, which has accepted greater than 1,000,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion since February, in accordance with the UNHCR.

Lewandowski has lengthy been amongst Ukraine’s supporters, calling for Poland to boycott its World Cup qualifying match in opposition to Russia simply days after the conflict started.

When he performed for Bayern Munich, the Polish captain wore a Ukrainian armband whereas his teammates wore black armbands to commemorate these killed within the conflict.

“Initially, I wish to thank Robert for every thing he’s been doing for my nation,” Shevchenko mentioned. “And I give this armband to him: this armband represents pleasure, energy, some attachment to Ukraine.”

Shevchenko (L) won the Ballon d'Or in 2004.

Soccer has assumed added significance in Ukraine in latest months.

The Ukrainian Premier League restarted final month for the primary time since Russia’s invasion in February underneath the shadow of air raid sirens – one match held in Lviv was halted 4 occasions permitting gamers to shelter in a bunker – whereas the Ukrainian nationwide staff was thanked by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky for “two hours of happiness” after defeating Scotland to reach the playoff final of World Cup qualifying.

“I believe to be athletes, we’ve a really sturdy voice to inform the reality to the folks, to maintain consciousness about what’s occurring in Ukraine and inform the reality about (it),” Shevchenko added.

Alongside tennis star Elina Svitolina, Shevchenko has acted as an envoy of UNITED24, a company arrange by Zelensky to direct nearly $186 million of donations to the conflict effort.

“I do know that after I put on for the primary time this armband,” Lewandowski mentioned, “if some folks heard about what I did, for me, it should even be an incredible feeling, wonderful time as a result of I do know that sport – additionally folks watch, for instance, soccer and completely different sport as nicely – and in the event that they know what’s going on, it’ll be simpler to know the scenario.”

Lewandowski will subsequent take to the sector with Poland on Thursday night time in a Nations League match in opposition to The Netherlands.

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