A Ukrainian Premier League (UPL) football match in Lviv was halted four times on Wednesday as a result of multiple air raid sirens at Skif Stadium in Lviv, according to the UPL.
Air raid sirens are one of the many safety measures implemented by the league in an effort to keep players and staff safe against Russia’s ongoing invasion of the country.
Football returned to Ukraine on Tuesday for the first time since Russia’s invasion in February.
Wednesday’s match, between Rukh Lviv and Metalist Kharkiv which Metalist eventually won 2-1, was the only league fixture impacted by the sirens on the day.
In an email to CNN, the UPL said: “Safe and security measures is the main priority for us, so both teams had to go to the shelter every time, according to the available safety protocols. The overall time of the match was indeed 4 and half hour(s).”
Social media accounts posted videos showing the events at the stadium, including what reportedly happened when the first siren went off, and of the players returning to the pitch after one of the stoppages.
Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist 1925 Kharkiv’s goalless draw in Kyiv on Tuesday marked the restart of the UPL, although football in Ukraine at the moment looks a lot different than before.
The league has implemented multiple safety measures to attempt to assure the safety of the players and the staff as they play in the middle of Russia’s continued assault.
As well as air raid sirens, bomb shelters have been erected near stadiums and no fans are permitted to enter.
According to Andriy Pavelko, head of the Ukrainian Association of Football, games will be played in Kyiv and the surrounding regions for safety reasons.
“We heard one siren yesterday morning before the game,” Darijo Srna, FC Shakhtar Donetsk’s director of football, told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies on Wednesday after the 0-0 draw against Metalist 1925 Kharkiv.
“We were in the hotel, we were just starting to drive to the stadium. When we were there, we were just praying that we wouldn’t hear a siren for 90 minutes, otherwise we must go underground waiting for the siren to go off.
“It wasn’t a good result, but our fans are so happy and Ukrainian people are so happy because we are starting to do something we love and that is playing football.”
Ukrainian soccer icon Andriy Shevchenko says sport has a major role to play in uniting people behind his country.
“It’s very important for the people, for the rest of the world – we can send the message that Ukraine is there,” Shevchenko told CNN Sport about the prospect of domestic football returning.
“Even if we’re at war inside the country, we are going to fight because we want to also live like normal countries, normal lives.”