“Would you join Zenit Saint Petersburg if they offered you EUR 5 million a year?”
When this question was put to Ukrainian national team footballer Roman Yaremchuk in late 2019, he didn’t hedge or hesitate.
“No,” he replied. “That’s a great question, but in today’s situation, I wouldn’t go. One hundred percent. I have everything I need in life and that is enough.”
Yaremchuk, who is currently starring for Gent in the Belgian First Division, clearly had no qualms about addressing the politically charged subject of Ukrainian footballers playing for Russian clubs.
However, while his response generated headlines in Ukraine, he does not speak for all Ukrainians on the subject. On the contrary, many of Yaremchuk’s compatriots openly support the right of players to join clubs in a country that is involved in an undeclared war with Ukraine.
The debate over Ukrainian footballers playing in Russia is an extension of a broader discussion that regularly preoccupies much of Ukrainian society.
What sort of relationship should Ukraine pursue with today’s Russia?
Amid an ongoingconflict that has torn apart intimate ties between the two countries stretching back generations, where should the line of disconnect between Ukraine and Russia now be drawn? Should it be at the governmental level, or should it also extend to a freeze in all cultural or sporting relations?
This is the opening extract of a piece that features on the Atlantic Council website.
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