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Russian Footballer, Forcibly Recruited by Putin: from Euro 2008 Semi-Finals to the War in Ukraine

Eight months have passed since the armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

Putin’s forces have entered Ukraine and invaded everything in their path and this happy war is still going on. This always includes all areas, including sports.

The last known case so far is one of the Russian champions at Euro 2008: Diniyar Belyalatdinov. He was capped with Russia 46 times, and at the 2008 European Championships in Austria and Switzerland he performed excellently, playing five matches, three of them as a starter.

In that continental event, his team fell in the semifinals against Spain led by Luis Aragão, who after days became European champions by defeating Germany in the final thanks to a wonderful goal by Fernando Torres.

But that does not indicate that Diniyar went to Ukraine with a gun in his hand. Because of Putin’s recent actions, to keep the pulse of the war against Ukraine, many Russians of fighting age were forcibly recruited.

The 37-year-old former footballer was one of 300,000 new soldiers recruited to the Russian front, as his father confirmed on ‘’:

JD received a subpoena. It’s hard to talk about emotions, because he didn’t serve, although he did military service, but he was defined by a sporting figure. That was 19 years ago. That means yes, he took an oath, but he remained associated with the sport.

The player’s father thinks something is wrong because his son is too old to be recruited:

“The law said people would be called up to 35, and he’s 37, so there’s a certain contradiction here. Now is the time to see if this summons was valid or if it was sent ahead of time. Anything can happen.” If there is a general mobilization, there is no need to ask questions, adding that “the president created a section, and everything must be in accordance with the law”.

Unfortunately, Bilyalatdinov isn’t the only footballer who suffers the consequences of the war. Ukrainian player Yarmolenko lived a complete nightmare: he sent his family to Ukraine the day before the invasion.

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