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Defiance: The Story of FC Start

ESPN Outside the Lines documents Ukraine’s greatest football team

It has been 70 years since a group of soccer players living in Nazi-occupied Kiev used the game they loved to find hope and inspire their fellow countrymen.

This past weekend ESPN aired a documentary on one of the greatest soccer teams to ever play the game, FC Start from Kyiv, Ukraine. The team, made up of employees former professional footballers from Dynamo Kyiv and Lokomotiv Kyiv players, played a season in which they went undefeated and finished with a combined score of 47-8.

The Nazi German’s would not take too kindly to this and felt the success of FC Start was a form of uprising from the occupied people. A match was conducted in order to portray the best qualities of the Aryan race and force the footballers of Dynamo Kiev to play against the Luftwaffe team under the condition of loss or death. The Dynamo players did not heed the ultimatum, went on to win the match, and paid for their victory with their lives. They were all arrested and later four were executed by firing squad.

This is their story.

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