Two Ukrainian soccer players, one of them Jewish, killed in fighting

Dmitry Martynenko, 25, and his mother die when bomb hits their home in Kyiv; father survives, sister, 7, reportedly hospitalized in serious condition

A member of the territorial defense stands in the backyard of a house damaged by a Russian airstrike, according to locals, in Gorenka, outside the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, March 2, 2022. (Vadim Ghirda/AP)
A member of the territorial defense stands in the backyard of a house damaged by a Russian airstrike, according to locals, in Gorenka, outside the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, March 2, 2022. (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

Two Ukrainian soccer players, one of whom was Jewish, have been killed in fighting in Ukraine.

According to local media reports 21-year-old Vitaliy Sapilo was killed in battle near Kyiv; and 25-year-old Dmitry Martynenko was killed along with his mother when their home was bombed near the capital.

Martynenko’s family is Jewish. His father survived the blast, while his younger sister, 7, was badly injured and left fighting for life in the hospital, Channel 12 news reported.

He was his the top scorer for his team, second-division side FC Gostome, last season, according to the report.

“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,” the International Federation of Professional Footballers said in a statement Wednesday.

Sapilo had reportedly joined the Ukrainian army as a tank commander.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its seventh day on Wednesday with heavy fighting around the capital Kyiv and in the country’s second-largest city Kharkov.

Russia reported its military casualties for the first time since the invasion began last week, saying nearly 500 of its troops had been killed and almost 1,600 wounded. Ukraine insisted Russia’s losses were far higher but did not immediately disclose its own military casualties.

The Ukraine State Emergency Service reported that more than 2,000 civilians have been killed, but that could not immediately be independently verified.

On Tuesday Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina put on the yellow and blue colors of Ukraine and beat Anastasia Potapova of Russia 6-2, 6-1 in the opening round of the Monterrey Open, deciding she could do more for her country by playing than boycotting the match.

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, left, and Anastasia Potapova of Russia shake hands after their match at the Abierto de Monterrey tennis tournament in Monterrey, Mexico, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo)

Top-seeded Svitolina earlier said she wouldn’t play against Potapova in Mexico or against any Russian or Belarusian opponents until the International Tennis Federation and the men’s and women’s tennis tours barred competitors from those countries using any national symbols, flags or anthems.

The tennis governing bodies issued a statement Tuesday confirming that Russian and Belarusian players will still be allowed to compete at the top level, but without national flags.

“Today it was a very special match for me,” the 27-year-old Svitolina said. “I’m in a very sad mood, but I’m happy that I´m playing tennis here.

Svitolina is a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist with 16 career tour-level singles titles who has been ranked as high as No. 3 and is currently No. 15.

“All the prize money that I’m going to earn is going to be for the Ukrainian army,” Svitolina said.

The Monterrey Open has $31,000 in prize money for the champion.

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