The city of Kyiv in the Ukraine was the focus of worldwide attention last month with the UEFA Champions League final taking place at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium between Real Madrid and Liverpool.
A big part of the competition this season has been UEFA’s #EqualGame campaign which aims at celebrating the positive effects that football brings to communities while highlighting the power and importance of diversity, inclusion and team work on and off the field.
Every month, as part of this campaign, UEFA focuses on a person from one of its 55 member associations as a great example of how football promotes inclusion, accessibility and diversity.
One example is Olesksander Fomichov, football coach and professional businessman who lives in Ukraine. Fomichov is no stranger to adversity. He was forced to abandon his home following the outbreak of civil unrest in 2014. But he is able to understand that there is power in unity and the bonds of good relationships. He states: “Keeping faith in people is the most important factor for the development of every country and the world as a whole. We can build a sustainable society and use football as one of the tools that brings us together.”
Echoing this sentiment is Andriy Shevchenko, one of Ukraine’s greatest footballers and head coach of the national team. Shevchenko says: “Football is an international game. It has nothing to do with politics or religion. It’s a game that’s accessible to all and it should be pure, not only in the top competitions but also among children.”
Among the spectators at the Champions League final was the Mayor of Kiev and former professional boxer Vitali Klitschko, who said: “It’s very important to spread the message of social inclusion and diversity… and we want to do this through sport. Like Nelson Mandela said: sport has the power to change the world.”