Robert Lewandowski: Barcelona and Poland will wear the Ukrainian armband at the World Cup


At a ceremony at Warsaw’s Stadion Narodowy on Tuesday, the two famous strikers embraced as Shevchenko tied the blue and yellow armband on Lewandowski’s arm.

“I am very proud because I know what it means to help the people of Ukraine,” said Lewandowski.

“I know what it is to fight for freedom, we know the history, our history and that’s why it was clear to help our neighbors, to help the people of Ukraine and I’m very proud to wear this arm and be on this side. I’m very happy and I’m very grateful for everything.”

As neighboring countries, there are strong ties and a shared history between Ukraine and Poland, which have taken in more than a million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion since February, according to the UNHCR.

Lewandowski has long been a supporter of Ukraine, calling for a boycott of Poland’s World Cup qualifier against Russia just days after the war broke out.

When he played for Bayern Munich, the Polish captain wore a Ukrainian armband, while his teammates wore black armbands in memory of those who died in the war.

“First of all, I want to thank Robert for everything he is doing for my country,” Shevchenko said. “And I give him this armband: this armband represents pride, power, some attachment to Ukraine.”

Football has become more important in Ukraine in recent months.

Ukraine’s Premier League restarted last month for the first time since Russia’s February invasion amid air raid sirens — a game in Lviv was stopped four times with players taking cover in a bunker — while Ukraine’s national team was praised. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed “two hours of happiness” after defeating Scotland to reach the World Cup qualifying play-off final.

“I think that as athletes, we have a very strong voice to tell people the truth, to keep awareness about what’s happening in Ukraine and to tell (it) the truth,” Shevchenko added.

'Please don't forget about us,' Ukrainian football legend Andriy Shevchenko says of the ongoing war effort
Along with tennis star Elina Svitolina, Shevchenko has served as an ambassador for UNITED24, an organization Zelensky created to channel nearly $186 million in donations to the war effort.

“I know that when I wear this armband for the first time,” said Lewandowski, “if some people heard what I did, it will be an amazing feeling for me too, because it’s a wonderful time because I know the sport, as well as the people. see, for example, football and different sports , and if they know what is happening, it will be easier to understand the situation.”

Lewandowski will take the field for Poland on Thursday night in their Nations League match against the Netherlands.