This summer marks the 70th anniversary of one of the most significant, yet relatively unknown soccer matches. In the midst of World War II, a group of soccer players living in occupied Kiev used the game they loved to show their fellow countrymen what was still possible when all else seemed lost. Living under Nazi rule in the summer of 1942, several members of Dynamo Kiev — the best soccer club in the Soviet Republic of Ukraine — were simply struggling to stay alive. They were recruited to play in a soccer league that was part of Germany’s plan to “normalize” life in the city, and the players named their new club FC Start (Football Club Start). Shortly after the team’s formation, it began one of the most unlikely runs of success in soccer history, inspiring the city but ultimately costing players their lives.
“They inspired people, made them feel as if there was a kind of resistance. It was no small thing.” — Yevgeniya Korotkikh, daughter of Nikolai Korotkikh, FC Start player
“With each passing match (FC Start) become more famous around town, and fans in the bleachers start shouting, ‘Down with the Germans!’’’ — Vladlen Putistin, son of Mikhail Putistin, FC Start player
“It is simply about a team standing for all that’s good about human virtue, and a team making an enormous sacrifice… they show what sport can be, at its best.” Andy Dougan, sports Historian and author of Dynamo
After a successful run in IndyCar, Danica Patrick switched to NASCAR last year and had a rocky start. She wants to win this year, but is also out to gain some credibility, writes Janet Reitman in ESPN The Magazine’s “Women in Sports” issue.
In an offseason of “BountyGate” and class-action suits, two veteran wide outs, the Baltimore Ravens’ Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, take a life-changing mission to Africa, writes Gary Belsky in ESPN The Magazine.
Outside the Lines (Wednesday, June 6, 3 p.m.; more detailed version Sunday, June 10, 9 a.m., ESPN)
The Belmont Stakes could produce the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years. But the sport of horse racing has not had much to celebrate of late, particularly at a venerable New York race track just 10 miles from Belmont. A deadly season at Aqueduct Racetrack claimed the lives of more than 20 horses and prompted intense scrutiny of the dangers and the drugs involved in the sport of kings. Jeannine Edwards reports.