There are few striking features about Start Stadium except its disrepair. Wooden planks in the grandstand, like neglected teeth, are mostly loose or missing. Behind the tiny seating area, though, a sturdy column rises and supports a statue. It depicts a muscular, naked man heroically kicking a soccer ball into the beak of a trampled eagle.
Seventy years ago, on Aug. 9, 1942, the stadium became the site of one of soccer’s most infamous and disputed games, the so-called Death Match. With Kiev under Nazi occupation during World War II, a group of Ukrainian players defeated a military team of Germans thought to be from artillery and perhaps Luftwaffe units.
According to legend, the Germans warned the local team beforehand or at halftime that it had better lose the match, and when the Ukrainians ignored the threat and prevailed, key members of the team were killed in retribution.