The coach of Shakhtar Donetsk football club has been killed in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
Ukrainian professional football, Shakhtar Donetsk confirmed that a youth coach has died defending Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Fighting in Ukraine has been taking place for eight days following Vladimir Putin’s call for a special operation to demilitarise and ‘denazify’ the country – a justification dismissed by Kyiv and the West as propaganda.
‘One of our employees was killed, he was a children’s coach,’ confirmed Shakhtar CEO Serhyi Palkin on Thursday evening. ‘He was hit by a fragment of a Russian bullet.’
Shakhtar are one of the country’s biggest clubs and currently sit two points clear at the top of the table. The league has now been postponed indefinitely.
The news comes two days after football’s global players association FIFPRO announced the first football casualties of the conflict with two Ukrainian footballers dying defending their country.
The International Federation of Professional Footballers confirmed Vitalii Sapylo, 21, and Dmytro Martynenko, 25, lost their lives in combat and have become the first football casualties of the war.
A FIFPRO statement read: ‘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.’
Sapylo – a goalkeeper who was part of third-division side Karpaty Lviv’s youth team – joined the Ukrainian army as a tank commander but is said to have died defending the capital Kyiv last Friday.
His club Karpaty Lviv labelled him a ‘hero’ after announcing he had been killed in battle.
Martynenko – who last played for second-division side FC Gostomel – died alongside his mother after Russian bombs hit his home in an apartment block in the capital.
Professional skier Yevhen Malyshev was also killed while fighting in an attempt to stop Putin’s forces from advancing.
The 20-year-old was part of his country’s junior team but put his career in sport to the side two years ago to serve in the military.