Soccer helps fund humanitarian aid in Ukraine: Donors get ‘Pixel of the Pitch’

Soccer fans are tribal animals. They can make life miserable for opposing players, coaches and fans.
But when times get tough – a player is seriously injured, or disaster strikes an entire team – entire stadiums come together, in support.
The time has come to “Pitch In for Ukraine.”
That’s the clever, memorable name of an international effort to raise funds for the embattled country. The official start is Aug. 23: Ukraine’s National Flag Day, and opening day for the nation’s top professional league.
As the war against Russian invaders continues, the return of soccer is expected to give an emotional lift to the entire nation. Pitch In organizers hope donations to relief efforts will give a financial lift too.
The concept is simple. Fans around the globe visit the website There are six tiers of donations, from $18 and 18 euros to $600 and 600 euros. Donors receive an official PoP (Pixel of the Pitch) — digital art with the name of the donor and a unique number, plus special surprises sent by email. Each PoP is 22 centimeters square.
The first stadium to offer digital squares is Donbass Arena, home of FC Shakhtar. FC Mariupol – in a city under siege by Russian forces since February – follows on Sept. 3. The program will eventually include all 16 Ukrainian Premier League stadiums, as well as the national team and its home site in Kyiv. There are 154,000 PoPs per arena.
The primary recipient of funds collected is United 24’s medical aid program, an initiative of President Volodymyr Zelensky. The other recipients are the Kyiv School of Economics Charitable Foundation, and two groups working with children and orphans: the Sports Foundation of FC Shakhtar Donetsk, and the Humanitarian Foundation of SCM.
The drive kicked off Aug. 7 at Roma, where Shakhtar played its first friendly since the war shut down all Ukrainian soccer. Shakhtar players marched out of the tunnel, wearing “Pitch in for Ukraine” shirts. The project logo was shown prominently throughout the match. Social media posts are also part of the launch.
Most teams in the Ukrainian league may be unfamiliar to soccer fans, but Ukrainian players have made their mark internationally. According to Louise Holland, communications director at Pitch In for Ukraine, that’s helped bridge the distance between the war-torn nation, and supporters of teams in the top European leagues.
“It was very emotional when the Shakhtar players came on the pitch,” says Holland, who is based in London. “Football is often club versus club, but at times like this, the football world comes together.”

By Dan Woog @danwoog, 18-August-2022