The decision has been made. Shakhtar Donetsk, the Ukrainian champions, will play their home games in the 2023/2024 edition of the Champions League at the Volksparkstadion. The club from eastern Ukraine, who finished last season as domestic champions with 72 points, had been looking into various possible venues for their home games in the Champions League in the last few weeks, since Shakhtar are unable to host international games at their own Olympiastadion due to the Russian invasion. The team had played their home games in the Stadion Wojska Polskiego in Warsaw during last season’s Champions League and then the Europa League after dropping into Europe’s secondary competition. However, the ground is out of the question for this season as a venue for home games due to scheduling problems.

“After considering multiple options, we quickly decided upon Hamburg as the venue for home games. We are convinced that games at the Volksparkstadion will be staged at the highest level and that both local football fans, as well as thousands of Ukrainians, who are temporarily living in Germany and other European countries at the minute, will come to the ground together,” explains Dmytro Kyrylenko, Shakhtar’s commercial director. HSV board member Jonas Boldt is already looking at the teams who have qualified for the group stages: “Following on from our initiative with the charity game in the summer of 2022, it is pleasing that we are able to offer lasting support to Ukraine, and in this case Shakhtar, and that Hamburg is going to host top quality international games.”

The result of the draw for the Champions League group stage on 31st August now represents a highly anticipated prospect. Shakhtar will be selected from Pot 3 at the draw in Nyon. Eight groups with four teams in each will be drawn from the four pots after the conclusion of the final qualification games in August. The teams will then face each other home and away in the group stage. For Donetsk, it means that they could face opponents such as SSC Napoli, FC Barcelona, Manchester City, Paris St. Germain, Bayern München, Benfica, Sevilla FC or Feyenoord from Pot 1. Likewise, their opponents from Pot 2 could be Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, Manchester United, RB Leipzig, FC Porto or Arsenal.

The group games are scheduled to take place on 19th and 20th September, 3rd, 4th, 24th and 25th October, 7th, 8th, 28th and 29th November, and 12th and 13th December.

HSV will handle the matchday organisation at the Volksparkstadion. The German club will also process ticket sales. Details about tickets and the start of advanced sale will be announced soon.

“We can offer Shakhtar the infrastructural and organisational expertise and experience that is necessary in the Champions League. In our talks, it was clear to see a strong sense of trust and a shared understanding between clubs. We’ve made a special effort to act as co-hosts for the Ukrainian champions, since we have a social obligation as a city to help out a country that has had to face so much adversity,” said HSV board member Eric Huwer.

HSV will receive a commission for the provision of the stadium and its facilities. Both clubs have opted not to disclose the details of the contract.

HSV and Shakhtar Donetsk will use the European fixtures at the Volksparkstadion to help those suffering from the war in Ukraine. Spectators will have various opportunities to donate to the Donetsk-based charity “Shakhtar Social” and the #WeAreAllUkrainians organisation in Hamburg. Together with the latter, HSV had already organised a charity game for Ukraine at the Volksparkstadion in May 2022, which raised over 200,000 Euros worth of donations.

By sport