ukraine2ukraine2

ATLANTA, GEORGIA—On Tuesday, the Ukraine Premier League soccer began. According to reports, two teams played in empty stadiums hundreds of miles from their hometowns. The opening game at Kyiv’s 65,500-seat Olympic stadium — where spectators were not allowed in — saw two teams from the war-torn east of the country, Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist 1925 Kharkiv, play out a 0-0 draw.

Sources said the game is the first top-level soccer match played in the country since Russia’s invasion in February. The decision to restart the league has been hailed as a sign that Ukrainians are ready to restore some sense of everyday life. Despite the soccer tournament, Ukraine remains under martial law.

Large public gatherings have been banned in the capital before the Independence Day holiday Wednesday due to fears of potential Russian bombardment. To ensure safety, police stood guard in front of the turnstiles, where weeds had grown after stadiums were closed six months ago, but no fans showed up to the arena. It was learned that three more league games were scheduled for later Tuesday.