Back in August I travelled to Ukraine to visit Shakhtar Donetsk, the country’s champions and also its richest club. As the war rages in east of the country, the region’s football clubs have had to move to Kiev and Lviv, its players and staff living in temporary accommodation. But in the western parts of the country Shakhtar are viewed suspiciously. The club’s owner, Rinat Akhmetov, is Ukraine’s richest man and was close to the deposed president Viktor Yanukovych.
I went to Kiev and spent time with the team as they prepared for the Donetsk derby, discovered how the territorial dispute over Crimea was bleeding into football and how Ukraine’s ultras were playing an unexpected role in the conflict.
The result was this feature for Norweigian football magazine Josimar. The amazing photos were taken by James Hill, a Pulitzer Prize winning photo-journalist for the New York Times. You can read something I wrote in English on the team for the New York Times here.