Professional leagues shut down back in February following a military invasion by Russia, with no competitive action taken in since mid-December.

A new campaign will get underway today, when Shakhtar Donetsk take on Metalist Kharkiv, but precautions are being taken against a backdrop of potential military threat.

Shakhtar captain Taras Stepanenko has told The Associated Press of returning to the field:

We have rules in case of an alarm and we should go to be underground. But I think the teams, the players will be proud of this event. We are ready, we are strong and I think we will show to all the world Ukrainian life and will to win.

No fans will be in attendance at the 65,000-capacity Olympic Stadium, with players set to be rushed to bomb shelters if air-raids sirens sound.

The Ukrainian league will start with 16 sides involved, with Desna Chernihiv and Mariupol forced to sit things out due to the devastation suffered in their respective cities.

All games will be played in and around Kyiv or further west of the capital, with recent outings in European competitions completed at venues in neighbouring Poland and Slovakia and over in Sweden.


By Amara

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