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15 Jun, 2023 10:04

Donbass head opens up possibility of two Shakhtar teams

Denis Pushilin has stated that the existing Ukrainian football club, now based in Lviv, “has now nothing to do” with Donetsk
Donbass head opens up possibility of two Shakhtar teams

Authorities in Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) are on track to revive FC Shakhtar Donetsk, and plan for the team to eventually take part in the national championship, Denis Pushilin, the region’s acting head, said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF 2023), Pushilin said that local authorities “dream of restoring Shakhtar in its full capacity,” with concrete efforts to accomplish this goal already underway.

He went on to express hope that the club would eventually compete in The Russian Premier League and also play at the Donbass Arena stadium, which has been inactive since 2014, when hostilities broke out in the region after a Western-backed coup in Kiev. Since then, the facility has been repeatedly targeted by Ukrainian artillery strikes.

Pushilin pointed out that “the stadium is damaged, but not completely.” “Of course, we plan to restore it as soon as such an opportunity presents itself, taking into account safety considerations,” he noted.

The Donbass Arena served as the home stadium for Ukraine’s FC Shakhtar Donetsk until it relocated to Lviv in the western part of the country in 2014, embracing the nationalism of its new home city. In late May, Pushilin noted that the DPR would create its own club under the same name, claiming the existing FC Shakhtar Donetsk “has now nothing to do” with the city.

“I think we will find the players... The real Shakhtar has a place to play, there have already been sponsorship proposals,” he said at the time.

Evgeny Solntsev, the head of the DPR government, confirmed plans to recreate Shakhtar, saying that it is projected to join the Russian Second League first, and then gradually rise up to the national level. He added that local authorities also intend to revive the Donbass hockey club, with the original now based in Kramatorsk in the Ukrainian-occupied part of the region.

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