Instead of fights in stadiums - war with the Russian occupiers. The Sun devoted an article to soccer fans from Kyiv
The British newspaper The Sun on its front page published a big article dedicated to the ultras of the Kiev soccer club Arsenal.
OBOZREVATEL offers its readers a translation of a piece in which the British admire the courage of our compatriots who stood up to defend their homeland.
"They left their soccer shirts and firecrackers at home, and are now dressed in camouflage and armed with machine guns and Javelin rocket launchers. The Ultras, whose main cohort represented the Kiev-based Arsenal, unrelated to their London namesake, have formed their own fighting unit and are fighting on the front lines against Vladimir Putin's occupying forces.
The graffiti paintings on the streets of Kyiv speak to their mission, "Arsenal against Putinism.
Other soccer hooligans, including those who moved to Ukraine from Putin's puppet state of Belarus, joined them on the front lines. The group formed its own army of proud young men volunteers, known as the "Kaifarika squad."
"Ukraine will be free. Victory will be for us, because we are ready to fight to the end. Day after day, the fighters of the Kyiv Arsenal are contributing to the liberation of our land from the fascist orcs," says one of the fans.
The photos show guys in the Pixel training with weapons such as Western-made sniper rifles, mortars and Javelins.
Since all of Kyiv's ultras are on the front lines fighting the aggressor, The Sun spoke with those who stayed home, helping them with supplies.
"We work all day and every day, and we will continue to work until victory," one of them told us.
The unit prides itself on being the only anti-fascist hooligan group in Ukraine. When the war began, they became part of the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine, the country's volunteer military reserve.
Crazy soccer fans have always been considered one of the most feared groups in Eastern Europe. Soccer hooligans are often associated with nationalism with extreme right-wing views, but this is not the case with those who support Arsenal Kyiv.
They pride themselves on being anti-racists and most like to fight ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis.
The first Arsenal Kyiv fanclub was created about 15 years ago. It is a team from the capital, whose main rival is Dynamo Kyiv.
"Dynamo" is often associated with far-right politics and nationalism, further fueling Arsenal's more progressive bias.
Arsenal Kyiv's first team was disbanded because of financial problems, but its youth teams continue to participate in city competitions.
The fans of the club lost their beloved leader Yuriy Samoilenko in the war. Yuri was killed during a battle in Kharkiv. Everyone spoke of him as a "strong and noble man."
He was the driving force that led them into battle to defend Ukraine. Yuri rallied his comrades against Russia's ruthless invasion .
Around 2013, the club declared bankruptcy, after which the bloodiest fights against Dynamo Kyiv fans disappeared .
But a year later Putin occupied Crimea, and Yuri decided to direct his aggression at an enemy who posed a far more sinister threat.
His hardened buddies followed him - and now the hooligans are dodging bullets instead of fists.
"Nine years ago the clashes began. Our society rallied then to oppose President Yanukovich, who was trying to copy the Russian authoritarian model in Ukraine. Our team was actively involved in resisting the dogs of that regime from the early days. As it turned out, this was only the beginning of great trials for our country. A lot of water has flowed since then, but the Ukrainian people's desire for freedom has remained unchanged," The Sun quoted one fan as saying.
At the border of a full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022, the hooligans were the first to take up arms, patrolling the outskirts of Kiev. Gradually their numbers grew, attracting more and more fighters from Ukraine and Belarus. This motley alliance eventually formed the "Kaifarika squad."
The volunteer formation enlisted in the TRO eventually headed east, where the heaviest fighting was taking place.
During its first deployment, the group successfully completed a mission near Borodyanka. On September 10, the Kaifariki detachment played a decisive role in the Kharkov counteroffensive.
Yuri Samoilenko was one of the first to lead his men in the attack. The 35-year-old man was fatally wounded during a bloody battle in Balakleya.
"Yuri Yanov Samoilenko was a long-time participant in the anti-fascist movement. He was an intelligent and calm commander. He will always be remembered as a hero and a brave comrade," recalls one of the deceased hero's brothers-in-law, who has a daughter.
Despite the death of their fallen leader, the Kaifariki squad continues to fight while the war rages. They are part of an alliance known as the resistance committee, and receive great support from the Solidarity Collective .
The group began its large-scale activities in June 2022 and has built a huge network. A representative of the Solidarity Collective admitted to The Sun that they will continue to support the soldiers until the war is over.
"The overall war situation for us meant that we agreed to work together for the long term. This war is going to be a long one, and any counterattack will mean a lot of casualties. We are supporting a small number of the military compared to the entire Ukrainian resistance, increasing the chances of each of them surviving and being able to fight effectively," said the spokesman for the organization.
In addition to the Kaifariki, the Solidarity Collective assists the military from various units that have expertise in anti-authoritarian activism.
They support Ukrainian troops in three ways.
First, it is networking between local trade unions, civic organizations in Ukraine and abroad to organize assistance to Ukrainians affected by the war.
Second is the military support they have provided to more than 100 comrades in the Ukrainian resistance.
And third, it was the communication, which consisted of organizing solidarity actions throughout Europe and beyond.
"The war will last for several years and we will need all the support we can get to bring it to victory. But we work all day and every day to make it happen, and we will continue to work until victory," summed up the Solidarity Collective.
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