A Ukrainian Premier League (UPL) football match in Lviv was stopped four times on Wednesday as a result of multiple air raid sirens at the Skif Stadium in Lviv, according to the UPL.
The air raid sirens are one of many safety measures the league has implemented in an effort to keep players and staff safe against Russia’s continued incursion into the country.
Football returned to Ukraine on Tuesday for the first time since the Russian invasion in February.
Wednesday’s match, between Rukh Lviv and Metalist Kharkiv which Metalist eventually won 2-1, was the only league affected by the sirens of the day.
In an email to CNN, UPL said: “Safety and security measures are the top priority for us, so both teams have to go to the shelter every time, according to the available safety protocols. The total match time is actually 4 and a half hour(s).”
Social media accounts posted videos showing events in the stadium, including what reportedly happened when the first siren sounded, and players returning to the pitch after one of the stoppages.
Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist 1925 Kharkiv’s goalless draw in Kyiv on Tuesday marked the start of the UPL, although football in Ukraine right now looks very different than before.
The league has implemented numerous safety measures to try to ensure the safety of players and staff as they play amid ongoing Russian attacks.
As well as air raid sirens, bomb shelters were set up near the stadiums and no fans were allowed inside.
According to Andriy Pavelko, head of the Ukrainian Association of Football, the games will be played in Kyiv and the surrounding regions for safety reasons.
“We heard a siren yesterday morning before the game,” Darijo Srna, FC Shakhtar Donetsk’s director of football, told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies on Wednesday after the 0-0 draw against Metalist 1925 Kharkiv.
“We were in the hotel, we were just starting to drive to the stadium. Once we were there, we were just praying that we didn’t hear a siren for 90 minutes, otherwise we would have to go underground and wait for the siren to go off.
“It’s not a good result, but our fans are very happy and the Ukrainian people are very happy because we are starting to do something we love and that is playing football.”
Ukrainian soccer icon Andriy Shevchenko says sport has a big role to play in uniting people behind his country.
“It’s very important for the people, for the rest of the world – we can send the message that Ukraine is here,” Shevchenko told CNN Sport about the prospect of domestic football returning.
“Even if we are at war internally, we will fight because we also want to live like normal countries, normal lives.”