Two Ukrainian football players have lost their lives over the past 24 hours. Vitalii Sapylo and Dmytro Martynenko are the first two sportsmen to die following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine
The world of football has shown its support for the people of Ukraine following the Russian invasion. (Image: Twitter/fifpro)

The tragic news was announced by FIFPRO, the world players’ syndicate, on Tuesday evening.

Sapylo, who was just 21, was fighting near Kyiv, while Martinenko died alongside his mother when his apartment block just outside the Ukrainian capital was bombed. Sapylo was under contract at second-tier side Karpaty Lviv, whereas Martinenko was a non-league star, winning several awards in amateur football. He last played for FC Gostomel.

Sapylo enrolled in the army as a tank commander.

“Our thoughts are with the families, friends, and team-mates of young Ukrainian footballers Vitalii Sapylo and Dmytro Martynenko, football’s first reported losses in this war. May they both rest in peace,” a statement from FIFPRO read.

Sheriff Tiraspol coach Yuriy Vernidub also chose to enter Ukraine’s military forces. The 56-year-old went from beating Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in September to fighting Russia in the space of just five months.

Football implores peace in Ukraine

Andriy Shevchenko, former Ukraine national team manager, attended a mass rally in London calling for peace. He’s only the latest Ukrainian football personality to send a peace message after several high-profile names in the game did the same.

“The Ukrainian people want peace because peace has no borders because what unites us must be stronger than what divides us. Let us stop this war together. I embrace you all,” Shevchenko said through a message shown on the screens at the San Siro ahead of AC Milan’s confrontation with Inter in the Italian Cup.

As a consequence of the Ukraine invasion, Russia has been banned from competing internationally at both club and national team levels.

After an attempt to distance himself from club affairs, Chelsea’s Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich could be on his way out for good. The club is allegedly on the market with three offers expected to come in by the end of the week.

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