Shakhtar Donetsk have criticised Barcelona after their players thanked fans in Russia for their support this season and called for the Catalan club to make an apology.
Alejandro Balde and Sergi Roberto recorded messages in Spanish that were posted on the messaging service Telegram by the Russian broadcaster for La Liga with subtitles. The Spanish league has shown great support for Ukraine since the invasion by Russia in 2022 with shows of solidarity, making the decision to produce the video upsetting.
“Ukrainian football club Shakhtar expresses its outrage concerning the posted video message from Barcelona players Alejandro Balde and Sergi Roberto with words of gratitude to football fans from Russia,” the Shakhtar chief executive, Sergei Palkin, said. “We hope that FC Barcelona is aware that their support of a country such as Russia at this time is completely unacceptable. We expect the club to admit its mistake and avoid similar situations in the future.”
Barcelona’s Poland striker Robert Lewandowski has personally shown unity with Ukraine by wearing a captain’s armband in the country’s colours of blue and yellow, and has criticised Russia’s actions. Meanwhile, rivals Real Madrid raised more than $1m as part of their “All For Ukraine” campaign.
“It is a second year of a bloody and unjustifiable military invasion by the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine,” Palkin said. “Thousands of Ukrainians became victims of this war, dozens of cities were destroyed, millions of people lost their homes and became refugees. The whole world united to support Ukraine and Ukrainian people and condemned the invasion. Every day we do everything to hasten the victory of Ukraine and to protect the European values of freedom and democracy.
“And then we see the players of one of the world’s top clubs, Barcelona, address the Russians, expressing their gratitude and support to them. We consider this an intolerable and simply immoral act. We must remember that no victory on the football field is worth the life of a child, no money earned in the football market is worth the destroyed cities and the wrecked lives of people.”
Barcelona have been approached for comment.