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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Ukraine’s Improbable Soccer Run Continues With Euros Qualification

  • The country reaches its first major soccer tournament since Russia’s invasion began.
  • Fox, Fubo, and TelevisaUnivision are set to gain a further lift in the highly anticipated event.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

One of sport’s most remarkable—and unlikeliest—stories in years is now unfolding, and a trio of North American media companies are poised to be among the primary beneficiaries. 

Ukraine qualified for the 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly known as the Euros, late Tuesday with a dramatic comeback victory over Iceland. The win clinched the country’s first qualification to a major soccer tournament since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in early ’22. A potential qualification by Ukraine to the World Cup that year fell just short with a playoff loss to Wales.

Because of the ongoing war, Ukraine’s national team has not played a home game in more than two years, staging games over that time in the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and Slovakia. The win carries additional resonance for Ukrainian citizens, as the Euros qualification arrives amid renewed bombing in the country by Russian forces.

“Whenever Ukrainians face difficulties but do not give up and continue to fight, Ukrainians certainly win,” the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, posted on X. 

Ukraine’s appearance in the Euros—expected to be a large-scale display of national pride—starting in June gives even more prominence to the event, which will be carried in English in the U.S. by Fox Sports and sublicensee Fubo, and in Spanish on TelevisaUnivision platforms. Currently ranked 24th in global FIFA standings, Ukraine will compete in the tournament’s Group E with Belgium (4th), Romania (45th), and Slovakia (48th). 

“Both before and after the [final qualifying] matches, we said that these victories are for our country, [our] people, the defenders who defend our freedom,” said Ukraine coach Serhiy Rebrov. “Everyone understands how important this victory is.”

Prize Money

Ukraine’s national team is also in line for a meaningful payday with the Euros qualification. UEFA finalized its prize distribution for the tournament late last year, keeping the same overall $360 million pool as the pandemic-delayed 2020 Euros. 

The country, like any other qualifier, will receive a minimum of $10 million, and could earn up to $30.5 million by winning the entire competition.

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