The former AC Milan and Chelsea striker is pleased to have seen FIFA take decisive action, but remains concerned for those in his homeland

Andriy Shevchenko has issued a powerful statement calling for the end to a “real war” between Ukraine and Russia, with the AC Milan legend pointing out that “children are dying” and members of his own family remain in Kyiv.

The former Chelsea striker, who spent five years as head coach of his country’s national team between 2016 and 2021, is among those being forced to watch on from afar as Vladimir Putin has sanctioned an invasion of his homeland.

He admits that football “doesn’t exist for me any more”, with the 45-year-old looking for more decisive action to be taken by nations around the world in a bid to stop political unrest from spiralling out of control.

Shevchenko has told Sky Sports: “I’m so proud to be Ukrainian. It’s a very difficult moment for my country, my people, my family.

“My mum and sister are in Kyiv at the moment, and terrible things have happened there. People dying, children dying, missiles pointing into our houses.

“We need to stop this war, we need to find a way to stop the war.”

He added, having tried to convince his family to join those fleeing Kyiv: “My mum and sister, like most of the Ukrainian people, are refusing to leave, they’re staying put to fight, for our freedom, for our soul.

“We’re a united people, and at this moment a country united. There’s a lot of help around; families try to share food with the soldiers, to help the troops.

“It’s one of the more difficult moments in the history of Ukraine, but people are really united, because we want freedom, and to defend our homes.

“We have refugees, we need humanitarian aid. We need medical support, food support. It feels like I can do a lot here, and I will do.”

Sanctions are being imposed on Russian financial and political institutions by governments and businesses around the world, with FIFA and UEFA stripping the country of Champions League final hosting rights while suspending their national team from World Cup play-offs and domestic sides from European competition.

Shevchenko said of efforts to restore peace as soon as possible: “Its a great reaction from the institutions like UEFA and FIFA to make the right decision.

“I dont think its a difficult decision. When you attack a country, when you start to send in bombs and soldiers; its not a conflict, its a real war.

“When the war has not stopped, I think its the right decision not to allow any Russian athletes to participate in any sporting event.

“Football doesnt exist for me any more. I dont think about it. Its not the time for that. Im not watching anything, any sport, anything.

“All my concentration, when I wake up, I think about how I can help my country, what I can do. Ive started to call my parents, my friends, get updates on whats going on in Ukraine.

“For me, this is my field, this is my concentration now.”

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