Shakhtar teams with United24, virtual stadium venture to aid Ukraine relief effort

Ukrainian Premier League (UPL) football club Shakhtar Donetsk has teamed up with United24, the official fundraising platform of the government formed amidst the conflict with Russia, to launch a project which intends to raise funds through a virtual stadium venture.

Shakhtar has agreed a partnership with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, coordinators of United24. Launched by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as the main platform for collecting charitable donations in support of Ukraine, United24 acts as a hub allowing funds to be transferred to the National Bank of Ukraine and subsequently reallocated by assigned ministries to cover the country’s most pressing needs following Russia’s invasion.

Shakhtar will specifically support United24 through fundraising for medical aid, with ‘Pitch in for Ukraine’ set to be the first joint project. This will see the virtual pitches of leading Ukrainian stadia sold in exchange for charitable contributions.

Any person willing to support Ukraine can make a donation and become a co-owner of a stadium’s digital version. Each digital fragment of the football pitch, a ‘PoP’ (Pixel of the Pitch), comes with an official electronic certificate, bearing the donor’s name and a unique edition number.

Shakhtar’s Donbass Arena has become the first virtual pitch under the campaign. Some 154,000 pixels of the stadium, each corresponding to one of six donation levels, are available to fans. An €18 (£15.19/$18.56) donation grants the purchaser a Bronze PoP digital art collectible. Each PoP is an individual 22 square centimetre pitch space, the exact size of a football.

Funds from the sale will be transferred to children’s aid programs from the Shakhtar Social Foundation and Medical Aid via United24, as well as humanitarian projects of the Saving Lives and KSE Foundation funds. Pixels will be available for purchase starting from August 23 at www.pitchinforukraine.org.

As part of the agreement, Shakhtar will wear the United24 logo on its shirt during games in its 2022-23 UEFA Champions League campaign.

Serhiy Palkin, general director of Shakhtar Donetsk, said: “The United24 initiative by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is a powerful project that allows us to keep the whole world’s focus on the war in our country and attract the resources necessary to protect independence, solve humanitarian problems, and restore destroyed infrastructure.

“FC Shakhtar is a famous Ukrainian brand, in Europe and worldwide, and we will do everything in our power to convert our popularity into real help, to attract as many funds as possible to support Ukraine. It is a great responsibility for us to be a partner of the United24 platform.”

Along with medical aid, funds raised via United24 will be channelled towards defence and demining, and the ‘recovery of Ukraine’. Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation, said: “In three months of United24 activity, we received contributions amounting to more than UAH6bn (£133m/€157.4m/$162.4m) from 110 countries.

“At the same time, we feel and understand that Ukraine cannot stay in the centre of attention forever; many people worldwide have already made one or more donations to support our state.

“That is why it is important to develop new fundraising formats. The joint project with FC Shakhtar, Pitch in for Ukraine, is one of them. I am sure that it will be successful and will not only help raising funds, but will also bring back the focus to Ukraine again, which is a very important task.”

The Ukrainian Government last month announced that the UPL would restart play on August 23, with stadia to be equipped with air raid shelter facilities amid the ongoing conflict with Russia.

No UPL matches have been played in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February, with the League having been in the midst of its three-month winter break at the time. This commenced in December.

Image: United24