A war-torn country, Ukraine, and its team, Dynamo Kiev, were Fenerbahçe's opponents last Wednesday in the Champions League preliminary round. Due to the conditions in Ukraine, the match was played at the Miejski stadium in Lodz, Poland.
As it was said in the 1981 film Escape to Victory, which was released in 1981 and starred some of the footballers who won the World Cup;
If only countries could settle disputes on the football pitch.
I watched the film for Pele and Pele is one of the few idols for me.
As far as I know, Dynamo Kiev has lost some of its players since the war started last February, due to the lack of official matches and unplayable leagues. When we think of football as a profession with a limited playing time, it is normal for footballers who want to perform their profession on the field to move away from conditions that do not allow them to do so and to look for new countries and new teams. As a sports fan, I am saddened by the current situation of Dynamo Kiev and other Ukrainian representatives, but I can do nothing but wish the war to end as soon as possible!
It is not the wish of any sports fan that war should be associated with sports organisations. Wars are politically motivated and politics must be kept away from sport!
Having watched many of Dynamo Kiev's Champions League matches in the past years, I am well aware of the way they play and the surprise results they produce. Mircea Lucescu, who is in charge of the team, is a Romanian coach whom I recognise and admire for his reading of the game. In his career in Turkey, he gave championships to Galatasaray and Beşiktaş, and together with Galatasaray he took the Super Cup from Real Madrid in 2000.
As a Galatasaray fan, I remember that match as if it was yesterday. Galatasaray, the UEFA champion in 2000, was rivalling Real Madrid in the Super Cup final, and Galatasaray was not given a chance by the authorities, but the beauty of sports and especially football is hidden here. The favourites are never determined before the match, the struggle on the field is the biggest advantage in determining the real winner.
The match, which ended 1 - 1 in normal time, went into extra time. That year, the "golden goal" rule was in effect in extra time and I witnessed this rule turn into a storm of excitement. Because as soon as one of the teams scored a goal in overtime, the match would be over, and there was a big difference between knowing this and testing it. My heart was beating so fast that it was jumping out of my chest, the thought that the match would end as soon as the goal was scored and the team that scored the goal would be the winner added to the excitement. In the first quarter of extra time, as the minutes ticked 103, Mario Jardel scored the golden goal to give Galatasaray the Super Cup. Jardel, who scored the goal, took off his jersey and celebrated like crazy on the pitch, while I was screaming and rejoicing in the room!
The golden goal was a very controversial rule and was abolished in the following years!
When we talk about Dynamo Kiev, I think about how it came to this, but I remember that Mircea Lucescu's career in Turkey was the reason for this. When a player or a coach goes to other teams in the future, a chain effect can connect the countries/teams he travelled to. This is just one of the many beauties of sport and football and no country, team or fan should be deprived of the beauty of sport or its branches.
During the match between Dynamo Kiev and Fenerbahce, I felt like I was watching a drama and questioned why the events on the field, rather than the game and the score, had a negative impact on sports/football. The game on the field was like the events in the score. The encounter of the two teams was like a reaction to what happened; they quietly played to a goalless draw.
Maybe the heat has something to do with it. Maybe the beginning of the season has an effect. But while watching, it was inevitable not to connect the game on the field and the drama experienced with the ongoing negative developments. The excitement experienced is the pleasure of watching sports. As long as the excitement is experienced and kept fresh, no matter which sports branch we follow, it will never be boring. Regardless of which country we are from, which team we support; the struggles on the field in accordance with the spirit and rules of sports should be the only determining factor in creating competition. And when this happens, it will be applauded by everyone.
Achievements come and go, those who stand on the podium today may be the first to be eliminated tomorrow, but in order to preserve the spirit of sport, it must be kept away from the dirtiest hand of politics and the wars they create.
I wish the resumption of the Ukrainian leagues and the recovery of all the affected clubs, such as Dynamo Kiev, and I wish both teams good luck for the rematch!