Soccer-Ukraine players, in video, remind world of wartime hardship, destruction

(Reuters) - Thirteen players from Ukraine's national team produced a video on Thursday ahead of their appearance at Euro 2024, presenting images of wartime destruction and hardship in their home towns 27 months into Russia's full-scale invasion.

"Our home cities would love to host Euro. Right now, they are fighting not for a tournament, but for their freedom," is the message flashed across the screen during the 90-second video released on the Telegram messaging app.

The video shows homes reduced to rubble, buildings set ablaze or blackened from air strikes and emergency crews gingerly picking their way through piles of debris.

"My name is Mykola Shaparenko and I'm from Velyka Novosilka, which has been completely destroyed by the Russians," said the Dynamo Kyiv player, referring to his home town virtually on part of the 1,000-km frontline through eastern and southern Ukraine.

Maksym Talovierov and Anatoliy Trubin introduce themselves as natives of Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine held by Russian forces or their local proxies since 2014, when separatists seized large parts of the east.

"At this time, Makiivka, Saky and Donetsk are temporarily occupied," Trubin says, referring to the home towns of four players.

Oleksander Zinchenko introduces himself as a player for London Arsenal and identifies his home town as Radomyshl, west of the capital Kyiv, against a background of explosions and buildings set on fire.

Several Ukrainian cities, including Donetsk, co-hosted Euro 2012 alongside neighbouring Poland.

The Ukrainian team opens its Euro 2024 campaign against Romania, another western neighbour, on Monday.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski; Editing by Sonali Paul)

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