January 17 – Shakhtar Donetsk owner Rinat Akhmetov (pictured) has pledged to give $25 million to help the families of Ukrainian fighters who tried to defend the city of Mariupol when it was attacked by Russian forces in the spring of last year.
The money represents a sizable chunk of the €70 million Chelsea paid for Shakhtar winger Mykhailo Mudryk who moved to the club at the weekend, with the fee possibly eventually rising to €100 million with performance-related add-ons.
“The money will be used to cover different needs – from providing medical and prosthetic treatment and psychological support to meeting specific requests,” Akhmetov said in a statement.
During the fall of Mariapol, Ukrainian fighters held out for months under relentless bombardment inside the Azovstal steel plant – which is owned by Akhmetov’s company Metinvest – before surrendering.
“Their acts of bravery are unparalleled in the modern history,” Akhmetov said.
Akhmetov also said that despite being happy to see Mudryk earn a move to the Premier League, he wants his own club to succeed in Europe but that this was impossible while the war with Russia continues.
“I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am happy for Mykhailo and proud of him. This guy is leading by example, showing that talent and hard work can make the impossible possible. I am absolutely confident that the entire Europe will acclaim Mykhailo’s brilliant and fine play.
“On the other hand, I have never made it a secret that my dream is to win European trophies. This means that players like Mudryk should be invited to our club, to our Ukrainian championship, and we should win European trophies with such players, rather than root for them, even when they play in the world’s top clubs.
“Unfortunately, it is impossible now, as Ukraine is fighting the horrendous and unjust war waged against us by the Russian Federation. But I am confident that we will win. And we will play a friendly against Chelsea at Donbass Arena in a Ukrainian Donetsk.”
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