Moscow, Aug 26 (EFE).- Russia’s war in Ukraine prompted a flight of international talent from Shakhtar Donetsk, a team that is now gearing up to square off against Real Madrid in this season’s Uefa Champions League.
Shakhtar were declared winners of the Ukrainian league when it was cut short this year by Russia’s full-scale invasion of its smaller neighbor.
Rules permitting players at Russian and Ukrainian clubs to unilaterally terminate their contracts led to a mass exodus from Shakhtar, winner of the Europa League in 2009.
Brazilian players like Marcos Antonio, Dodo, Marlon and Ismaily have since relocated to the Italian and French leagues.
Others, such as Maicon, Tete and Pedrinho, returned on loan to Brazil.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Vinícius Tobias headed to Real Madrid.
The Ukrainian club has accused player agents and representatives of using the benefiting from the war to do business and is mulling a bid for compensation — reportedly in the region of 50 million euros — from Uefa to cover costs.
Shakhtar’s coach, Italian Roberto de Zerbi, also left and was replaced by the Croatian manager Igor Jovicevic.
Only three international players remain at Shakhtar — Burkinabé Lassina Traoré, Croatian Neven Durasek and Brazilian Taylor.
The latter two players featured in the team’s recent league match against GC Metalist 1925 Kharkiv. The rest of Shakhtar’s team is Ukrainian, including stand out international players like Stepanenko and Matviyenko.
The opening game of the Ukrainian league this season was played in Kyiv and without a crowd for security reasons.
In the Champions League, the club will host Real Madrid in Warsaw.
In the last 20 years, the Donbas team has won fourteen league titles, five of them since the outbreak in 2014 of the pro-Russian armed uprising against Kyiv, the origin of the current conflict and which forced them from their home stadium.EFE.