Kyiv, Ukraine ( Associated Press) – Shakhtar Donetsk owner Rinat Akhmetov pledged $25 million on Monday to the families of soldiers who defended the city of Mariupol when Russian forces invaded it.
Akhmetov announced the donation a day after Shakhtar completed a 100 million euro ($108 million) deal to sell winger Mykhailo Mudrik to English Premier League club Chelsea. The Ukrainian club reported that the money promised by Akhmetov would not come from the transfer.
“The funds will be used to meet various needs, including providing medical treatment and prostheses, as well as psychological support for specific situations,” Akhmetov said, according to a statement released by Shakhtar.
During the takeover of Mariupol, Ukrainian troops fought for months against constant shelling inside the Azovstal steel factory owned by Akhmetov. It was a symbol of the Ukrainian resistance in the first months of the invasion.
Launching the “Heart of Azovstal” initiative, Akhmetov said, “Their acts of bravery are unmatched in modern history.”
Since Akhmetov took over as club president in 1996, Shakhtar have emerged as regular Champions League champions and were crowned UEFA Cup champions in 2009.
Shakhtar has been in exile in Donetsk since 2014 during clashes with pro-Russian forces and then the war last February. The stadium has been damaged, but was not destroyed. Ukrainian championships are held in Kyiv and the western part of the country.
Akhmetov said he was confident that Ukraine would win the “sinister and unjust war” and then “we will play a friendly match against Chelsea at the Donbass Arena in Ukrainian Donetsk.”