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Two Ukrainian footballers who volunteered to fight have died after Russian invasion

Two Ukrainian footballers, Vitalii Sapylo and Dmytro Martynenko, have been killed in combat following an invasion by Russia in the ongoing conflict.

Two Ukrainian footballers who volunteered to fight have died after Russian invasion

The duo volunteered to fight Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and were on the frontlines helping to defend their country.

However, a statement from the global footballers' union FIFPRO said Vitalii, a 21-year-old goalkeeper for third-division side Karpaty Lviv's youth team, and Martynenko, a 25-year-old who last played for second-division side FC Hostomel, have lost their lives in combat.

"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,” FIFPRO posted on Twitter.

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In a separate interview with the BBC, 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.

"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."

Last week, Russia President Vladamir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine, bombing some cities in the process.

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The world has since united in condemning the attack on Ukraine, with some sports bodies also joining in to make their voices heard.

FIFA and UEFA have banned Russia’s clubs and their national teams from taking part in footballing competitions.

The decision sees Russia booted out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup which will be hosted in Qatar between November and December later in the year.

On Tuesday, the World Athletics Council also suspended all Russian athletes from all World Athletics Series events.

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