The sensational transfer of Mykhaylo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk to Chelsea FC should help ease the suffering of Mariupol’s defending forces.

Rinat Akhmetov, the owner of the Ukrainian top club, announced on the club’s website on Monday that he had set up a fund for this purpose. “For the help of our fighters and defenders, and likewise for their families, I am today allocating one billion hryvnias (the equivalent of about 23.5 million euros).”

The financial aid is to be used for medical treatment, psychological care, prostheses and other things. The southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov was conquered by Russian troops in the spring of 2022, only a few months after the start of the war, and large parts of it were destroyed.

Akhmetov’s business empire, in turn, was largely based on Mariupol’s steelworks, where the last Ukrainian soldiers held out for weeks at the time. “We owe an eternal debt to our defenders,” said the 56-year-old. He said his new fund should be called “Heart of Azovstal”.

Akhmetov: “Win trophies in Europe with players like Mykhaylo”.

On Sunday, the transfer of 22-year-old Mudryk from Shakhtar to Chelsea had become known. The Ukrainian club is expected to receive a total of up to €100 million for the transfer.

“I have mixed feelings today,” said Akhmetov, “because on the one hand, I am proud of Mykhaylo, who has shown that with hard work you can make the impossible possible. On the other hand, I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I want to win trophies in Europe with players like Mykhaylo instead of training them for other top clubs.”