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Two Ukrainian soccer players and a former biathlete were among those killed in the midst of Russia’s invasion into the country, officials said this week.
FIFPRO, the global union for professional soccer players, tweeted Tuesday that Vitalii Sapylo and Dmytro Martynenko have died during the war.
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Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, FIFPRO’s general secretary, reacted to their deaths on BBC Radio.
“We’ve had confirmation from the ground (of their deaths) which is of course incredibly sad. We don’t have clear information on how many of our members are really currently involved in the conflict,” Baer-Hoffmann said. “Of course, there are still hundreds of Ukrainian players, male and female, in the country so it’s very difficult right now to get an overview how many of them are at what degree of risk.
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“Our union on the ground is effectively working out of bunkers and cellars. These two players have passed away as part of this military invasion. They’re showing how football and sport in general is just an afterthought because they’re just individuals who unfortunately got caught up in this terrible war.”
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Sapylo, 21, played for Karpaty Lviv’s youth soccer team. Martynenko, 25, was on FC Gostomel.
Biathlete Yevhen Malyshev died while serving in the Ukrainian military, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) said in a statement.
“Above all, the IBU expresses its deepest condolences on the loss of former Ukrainian biathlete Yevhen Malyshev (19), who died this week serving in the Ukrainian military,” the union said. “The Executive Board once again condemns the Russian attacks on Ukraine and the support provided by Belarus.”
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Malyshev, 19, competed for the national team and the Kharkiv junior team before his career ended in 2020.