Ukraine Missing World Cup Major Blow to Attention on Invasion: Expert

  • Ukraine missed out on a spot at the Qatar World Cup with defeat to Wales on Sunday.
  • Ukrainian soccer expert Andrew Todos says it’s a huge blow for attention on the Russian invasion. 
  • “Qualification would have meant another six months minimum of coverage,” he told Insider. 

Ukraine missing out on a spot at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar is a major blow to international attention on the Russian invasion, a Ukrainian soccer expert told Insider.

On Sunday, Oleksandr Petrakov’s side narrowly missed out on qualifying for the tournament, losing 1-0 by Wales in the last of UEFA’s three play-offs to determine which team would take one of the last spots at the 2022 tournament.

In the build-up to the match, Ukraine’s Oleksandr Zinchenko had spoken of the joy qualification would bring to the country’s people amid the ongoing invasion, which has claimed the lives of over 4,000 civilians since it began in-late February, per UN data.

“It’s disappointing not to make it as it will have a negative impact on the coverage of the ongoing war,” Andrew Todos of Zorya Londonsk, a UK-based website focused on Ukrainian soccer, told Insider.

“Qualification would have meant another six months minimum of coverage related to the stories of the players and others back in Ukraine.

“It’s a shame that the audience of over one billion people that will watch the World Cup will not be able to see Ukraine there and hear these stories.”

Todos added that in Ukraine’s absence in Qatar, the team and its players will “have to make the message heard through other means.”

“The players have huge followings on social media and will continue to push the message about what’s happening in Ukraine for their clubs and in Ukraine’s other matches this year and beyond,” he said.

“So while missing the World Cup is disappointing, it is not the end of the world.”

Wales celebrate its qualification for Qatar.
Getty/David Davies

While it was heartbreak for Ukraine in Cardiff on Sunday, it was a day to remember for Wales, which qualified for its first World Cup since 1958.

An own-goal from Ukraine’s Andriy Yarmolenko proved to be the difference, with the West Ham United forward heading the ball into his own net from Gareth Bale’s free-kick in the 34th minute.

Speaking after the match, Bale, who recently announced he was leaving Real Madrid after eight years, described the result as the “greatest” in the history of Welsh soccer.

“It means everything. It’s what dreams are made of. I’m speechless because I’m so happy,” he said. 

“Words can’t describe how we feel at the moment.”

Wales will face England, USA, and Iran in Group B at the World Cup.

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