Some 30,000 Ukrainians descended on Moscow in Aug 1969 and sang folk songs in the heart of the Soviet empire. FC Karpaty supporters celebrated the regional second-division club’s surprising place in Soviet soccer history.
Football universes exist in parallel. Such was the case in May 08 when Ukraine United and Shakhtar played a friendly, not in the motherland, but on an artificial pitch at Ontario Soccer Centre.
Twenty-two years ago, more than 1,000 buses commandeered from Kyiv rumbled north toward the company town of Pripyat to evacuate its 50,000 residents. By sunset on 27 Apr 1986, as Chernobyl reactor no. 4 burned, in one soldier’s recollection, like a “beautiful blue fire,” the town was empty.
Left behind in the silence: a newly built football stadium sitting just to the north of a bright yellow Ferris wheel, a gift from Soviet authorities in commemoration of the upcoming May Day holiday.