Kick-off was at 12:15 p.m. The game between the top clubs Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist Kharkiv ended the long break in the Ukrainian professional football league on August 23 and games resumed.

Ukrainian football experienced the first league game in eight months. After Kharkiv’s 1: 2 on December 12, 2021 at Chornomorets Odessa, the Premjer Liha went on their winter break and the 19th matchday planned for February 25 was canceled due to the Ukraine attack by Russia that had started the day before. At the end of April, the association finally announced the termination of the 2021/2022 season. Championship and relegation were suspended.

So now the restart with the 1st matchday of the season. A deliberately chosen time. August 23 is the Day of Independence from the former USSR and since then it has been Ukraine’s National Day. Before the kick-off of the first game, both teams commemorated the victims of the war with a minute’s silence, and an injured war veteran was allowed to carry out the symbolic kick-off.

“It is very important to resume great football like other national championships in Ukraine. We keep fighting and winning. We constantly prove that Ukrainians are a nation of winners,” Minister of Sport Vadim Guzait wrote when announcing the start of the season in July.

The decision to resume was made after an agreement between numerous bodies. In addition to the national football association and sports ministries, the ministries of defence, interior and economy, as well as the national police and the municipal military administrations of numerous cities were also involved.

“The games will take place in Ukraine under the rules of martial law, without spectators and with all security measures being observed. In the event of air raids, the games are interrupted so that everyone involved can get to safety,” explains Guzait.

Due to the ongoing war and the destruction of numerous sports venues by Russian shelling, several clubs have had to play their home games in other stadiums, mainly in Kyiv and western Ukrainian cities.

The opening game between Donetsk and Kharkiv took place in the National Stadium in Kyiv. Five more games are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Others have already had to be canceled and relocated. Two teams from Chernihiv and Mariupol, whose infrastructure was massively destroyed by the war, do not take part in the game. Irrespective of the problems, the second matchday should take place at the weekend.