KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Rinat Akhmetov, president of Ukraine club Shakhtar Donetsk, has said that a $25m chunk of the Mykhailo Mudryk transfer fee will be donated “to help our soldiers, defenders and their families.”
At the weekend winger Mudryk, 22, signed an eight-and-a-half-year contract with Chelsea who had outbid Arsenal with an initial £62m transfer offer.
Mudryk was introduced on the pitch to fans before kickoff against Crystal Palace on Sunday then watched his new team-mates secure only their second league win since the World Cup and end a run of three defeats in all competitions.
Billionaire businessman Akhmetov has bankrolled Shakhar since 1996 including the years since 2014 when the club had to flee Donetsk to western Ukraine in the face of the Russian-backed invasion. This season they have been playing European competition ties in Poland.
A statement from Akhmetov said:
I want to thank the entire civilised world for helping Ukraine. We can only talk about Ukrainian football because of the Ukrainian army, the Ukrainian people and the tremendous support we have had during this incredibly difficult time. And the only way we can defeat the evil that has come to our homes is by working together.
I am donating $25 million (UAH 1 billion) of the transfer fee to help our soldiers, defenders and their families. The money will be used to cover different needs, from providing medical and prosthetic treatment and psychological support, to meeting specific requests. It will be managed by an independent professional team that will work with the Azovstal defenders, their families, care providers and volunteers.
This is the beginning of the Heart of Azovstal, a brand-new project that will help the Mariupol defenders and the families of fallen soldiers. Their acts of bravery are unparalleled. And it is their sacrifice and courage that helped contain the enemy in the first months of the war, providing the platform for the inevitable Ukrainian victory.
I am happy for Mykhaylo and very proud of him. He has shown that talent and hard work can make the impossible possible. And I have no doubt he will shine at Chelsea and across Europe.
On the other hand, I have never made it a secret that my dream is to win European trophies. This means that we need players like Mykhaylo in Ukrainian clubs, competing at the European level. Unfortunately, that is impossible at the moment, because of this unjust war being waged against us by the Russian Federation.
But I remain utterly confident we will defeat the aggressor. One of the things I look forward to most after our victory is Mykhaylo returning with his Chelsea team for a friendly match in Donbass Arena in a Ukrainian Donetsk. We must do everything we can to bring this day closer. We are forever indebted to our soldiers!