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Football Finn Sparv hands over apartment to Ukrainian refugees

FILE PHOTO: Euro 2020 - Group B - Denmark - Finland
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Euro 2020 – Group B – Denmark v Finland – Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark – June 12, 2021 Finland coach Markku Kanerva talks to Tim Sparv during the pre-match pool game warm-up REUTERS/Friedemann Vogel

March 10, 2022

(Removed HOLD from headline, no change to story)

By Philip O’Connor

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Wanting to do more than just donate to charities helping Ukrainians flee Russia’s invasion of their country, former Finland captain Tim Sparv handed over the keys to his apartment to a family refugee in the Nordic nation searched.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine two weeks ago, an estimated two million Ukrainians were displaced, many of whom headed west towards Poland, Hungary and Romania.

“We have always wondered how we can do more and this was a concrete way. I thought millions of refugees were leaving their homes. I have my apartment in Finland, where I honestly don’t spend that much time,” he told Reuters in a phone interview.

Sparv, who led Finland to a major tournament for the first time as they qualified for Euro 2020 and won the Finnish league with HJK Helsinki before retiring in December 2021, gave his home to a Ukrainian woman and her two sons .

His 16-year professional career took the 35-year-old to English side Southampton, Greuther Furth in Germany and FC Midtjylland in Denmark, as well as Swedish, Dutch and Greek clubs.

When asked where he intends to stay during his visit to Finland this weekend, the battling former defensive midfielder laughed.

“In a way it’s actually a win-win situation because I’ll probably live with my mother in a small village outside of Vaasa, so maybe that will give me and my mother more time together, which is only positive,” says he called.

Russia has announced that it will conduct a “military special operation” in Ukraine.

(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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