The 26 May Champions League Final in Kyiv was a dream come true for thousands of Ukrainian football fans. Among the luckiest supporters was Katya Yaroslavska, who accompanied match officials onto the pitch at the start of the game. Katya is the eldest daughter of Ukrainian businessman Oleksandr Yaroslavsky, who is perhaps best known for his role as the key investor behind Kharkiv’s preparations to co-host UEFA’s Euro 2012 football championship.
“I’m going to walk onto the pitch with the referee tonight. My dad is supporting Liverpool, but my mother is supporting Real Madrid,” the youngster told reporters as she prepared for her big moment outside Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium on the day of the match.
Katya was one of a number of children to join match officials and both teams of players as they lined up for the official introductions prior to the start of the Champions League Final. Journalists have speculated that dad Oleksandr Yaroslavsky was able to secure this honor for his daughter thanks to his connections in the worlds of Ukrainian and European football. As president of Metalist Kharkiv Football Club, Yaroslavsky led the team to six consecutive third-place finishes in the Ukrainian Premier League, while also orchestrating a series of impressive campaigns in UEFA competitions. He was the largest private investor in Ukraine’s preparations for Euro 2012, investing more than USD 300 million into infrastructure development projects including the redevelopment of Metalist Kharkiv stadium, a complete overhaul of Kharkiv International Airport, and the construction of Kharkiv’s first five-star hotel to serve as a regional UEFA headquarters.
Despite her tender years, Katya says she is an avid football fan, having first fallen in love with the game when visiting Metalist Kharkiv matches alongside her father as a small child. Her mother, meanwhile, was thrilled by Katya’s Champions League Final appearance, taking to social media to post: “My husband and I literally cried with happiness and pride.”