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Middlesbrough fans wear Ukrainian president Zelenskyy masks during FA Cup clash with Chelsea

21:26 EAT 19/03/2022
Middlesbrough fans, Volodymyr Zelenskyy masks
The politician has become a recognisable figurehead amid the Ukraine-Russia crisis and Boro fans showed their support for him amid the conflict

Middlesbrough supporters wearing masks of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy were spotted by photographers during Chelsea's FA Cup visit on Saturday.

The Blues made the trip to the Riverside Stadium to face their lower-league hosts amid a slate of sanctions against the club in connection with owner Roman Abramovich's relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Amid the ongoing Ukraine-Russia crisis, Boro fans were seen to have offered their support to the invaded nation.

What has happened?

Supporters were spotted dotted around the Riverside Stadium sporting masks that featured the likeness of Zelenskyy, who has become a widely recognised figurehead amid the Russian invasion.

It represented a particularly pointed rebuttal to the Blues and their alleged links with the Putin regime through Abramovich, despite the latter's attempts to sell the club before it was subsequently sanctioned as part of the UK government's move against him.

Zelenskyy, a former comedian and actor who rose to become Ukraine's president, previously gained recognition for his role on the popular television series Servant of the People, where he played the nation's leader following an unexpected populist election.

Chelsea booed on arrival

The masks were only part of the protest against the Blues, who came under fire for requesting their game against Middlesbrough to be played behind closed doors earlier this week.

Though they subsequently withdrew the request, Chelsea found themselves roundly booed when they arrived at the Riverside Stadium ahead of kick-off on Saturday.

The club travelled by bus, amid sanctions that prohibit the cost of travel £20,000.

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