'Putin took my child from me' - FIFPRO confirms two Ukrainian footballers have died following Russia invasion

Vitalii Sapylo Dmytro MartynenkoGoal/FIFPRO

Two Ukrainian players have been killed fighting against the Russian invasion, global footballers' union FIFPRO has confirmed.

Vitalii Sapylo, 21, and 25-year-old Dmytro Martynenko have died in the conflict following the military invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces on the command of President Vladimir Putin.

Sapylo was a goalkeeper with third-division side Karpaty Lviv's youth team, while Martynenko last played for second-division side FC Hostomel.

What has been said?

A statement from FIFPRO on Twitter read: "Our thoughts are with the families, friends, and teammates of young Ukrainian footballers Vitalii Sapylo and Dmytro Martynenko, football’s first reported losses in this war. May they both rest in peace."

Speaking to BBC Radio 5Live, FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffman said: "We've had confirmation from the ground, which is of course incredibly sad.

"We don't have clear information on how many of our members are really currently involved directly in the conflict, and of course there are still hundreds of Ukrainian players, male and female, in the country.

"Our union on the ground is effectively working out of bunkers and cellars where they are hiding from the attacks, so it's a very difficult situation to analyse.

"These two players have apparently passed away, as part of this military invasion. They're showing how football and sports in general is an afterthought because they're just individuals who unfortunately got caught up in this terrible war."

Sapilo's father Roman told BILD: "He was such a happy, fun-loving boy. It was an airstrike by that damn Putin. He took my child from me.

"He really wanted to fight. First one tank broke down, then the second, but under no circumstances did he want to leave the front. He asked for a third party. This armour has brought him eternal sleep."

Football's reaction to the Russia-Ukraine crisis

The world of football has shown its support for Ukraine, while Russia has faced a range of sanctions including being thrown out of the 2022 World Cup.

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Russia were due to play Poland in a play-off next month, however, the Poles have been given a bye and will play Sweden or Czech Republic for a place in Qatar.

UEFA has removed Spartak Moscow from the Europa League, and ended its sponsorship deal worth £33.5 million ($45m) a year with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

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