Ukraine’s most celebrated footballer Andriy Shevchenko was elected president of the country’s football association (UAF) on Thursday, pledging to develop the sport amid the Russian invasion.
Shevchenko, who won the Champions League with AC Milan in 2003 and is Ukraine’s top goalscorer, has been a staunch opponent of Russia’s war, speaking out regularly against Moscow’s actions and using his profile to help raise funds for victims and refugees.
“A big and responsible task lies ahead — to develop Ukrainian football in the most difficult time in the history of Ukraine,” Shevchenko said on social media site X after his appointment.
The 47-year-old told a press conference in Kyiv he would strive to advance the game in the “very difficult conditions of the full-scale war”.
The former Chelsea, AC Milan and Dynamo Kyiv striker also pledged to stamp out corruption at the body, following a graft scandal that saw his predecessor arrested on fraud charges.
Since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, President Volodymyr Zelensky has sought to advance an anti-corruption agenda at home — a key requirement of Kyiv’s bid to join the European Union.
“It is very important for us to be transparent,” Shevchenko said, insisting he would oversee an audit of the association.
The 2004 Ballon d’Or winner was head coach of Ukraine from 2016 to 2021 leading them to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals, where they lost to England.
Football in Ukraine has not escaped the effects of the war. The season was halted when Russia invaded and games have been shifted to the safer western part of the country.
The national team have been forced to play home games in neighbouring Poland.
Ukraine are currently in the play-offs for Euro 2024 qualification. Weeks after Russia invaded, Ukraine narrowly missed out on securing a place at the 2022 World Cup at a similar stage.
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