After Villarreal‘s elimination in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, a Champions League group stage berth was made available to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Shakhtar Donetsk, who have been kicking off in charity games throughout Europe in exile since Russia’s invasion, will be competing in the Champions League next season after receiving a significant upgrade.
After losing to Liverpool 5-2 on aggregate, Villarreal was eliminated from championship contention. Liverpool had qualified for next season’s UCL by finishing first in their domestic league. The other SF second leg is Wednesday night between Real Madrid and Manchester City.
UEFA will no longer guarantee the defending champion a spot in the tournament the following season; instead, that spot will go to the top-ranked national league that does not have a direct berth in the group stage. This change will take effect in September.
Shakhtar Donetsk, the top team from the 12th-ranked Ukraine, was supposed to begin postseason play in August.
When the Ukraine Premier League season was called off with a month still to play, Shakhtar Donetsk was sitting well atop the rankings. One day before the league was set to return after a two-month winter hiatus, Russia invaded Ukraine on the 24th.
Within a few of weeks, UEFA will publicly announce Ukraine’s distribution of European Competition participation.
Shakhtar Donetsk Might Find Financial Stability
Shakhtar should find some stability in the midst of uncertainty for Ukrainian soccer thanks to the financial security provided by Champions League football. The number of players they will be able to keep and sign for next season, particularly those from outside, is unknown, as is the location of their practices and games.
For eight years, Shakhtar Donetsk has struggled in limbo, away from his home and family. Since 2014, when they were evacuated from their hometown of Donetsk because of a war in their eastern Ukrainian homeland that was supported by Russia, the team has not played there. In the third month of the battle, it has become the site of fierce combat.
In all, UEFA awarded Shakhtar €43.1 million in prize money and a share of media rights for participating in the group stage of the Champions League in 2019-20.
Despite competing in the Europa League that season, Dynamo Kyiv only earned €7.5m ($7.9m).
Dynamo finished in second place in the Ukrainian rankings before the season was interrupted, and they will play in the Champions League’s second qualifying round in July. To advance to the group stage, Dynamo would need to win three straight matches while on tour for charity.
Because of the conflict, UEFA banned Russian teams from participating in European tournaments in the next season, which was a boon for Shakhtar.
This week, eleventh-ranked Scotland was given the group stage spot that had been handed to the Russian champion Zenit St. Petersburg, making the Ukrainian national team the next in line if Villarreal did not win the UCL.
There is a chance that Zenit may join the Russian federation in challenging UEFA and FIFA’s exclusion of national and club teams from international tournaments before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In March, the CAS issued interim decisions against Russia in each of these appeal proceedings.