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Kiev and the shadow of 'Death Match'

Kiev hosts the final of Euro 2012, cementing an association with football that goes well beyond its famous teams to one of the most talked-about matches in history.

sports Updated: Jun 24, 2012 01:12 IST
Kiev
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Kiev hosts the final of Euro 2012, cementing an association with football that goes well beyond its famous teams to one of the most talked-about matches in history.

The Start stadium is a crumbling arena not far from the city centre. 70 years ago it hosted a match, when a team made up of former Dynamo and Lokomotiv players freed from a prison camp played a FlakElf XI of soldiers and pilots of the Nazi German occupiers.

On August 9, 1942, several thousand people were in the then Zenit stadium to watch FC Start win 5-3 in a game later dubbed “The Death Match”.

The story began several months before when former Dynamo goalkeeper Nikolai Trusevich put togther a team with some of his former teammatesto play in a league organised by their hated occupiers.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/6/24_06_pg-19d.jpg

They won six times before playing FlakElf for the first time on August 6. Winning 5-1 the first time, a rematch was organised.

Despite the match being marked by dubious referee, Start went into half-time 3-1 up. The players are then said to have received a visit from two German officials asking them them to throw the match. The team won the game 5-3.

History and legend diverge from reality after the final whistle. Some even suggest the players were executed after the match. But, in reality, many of them were arrested on suspicion of being members of the Soviet secret police and sent to labour camps.

In Kiev, two monuments pay tribute to the players.