Brazilian soccer players representing Ukraine’s top two clubs made a plea to the Brazilian government Thursday. They claimed that they were trapped by Russia’s military attack on Ukraine.

A group of Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk players posted a video with their families, from which they called for help from Brazilian authorities. Carlos de Pena from Uruguay joined them in the video. They claimed that the border was closed and that fuel supplies were exhausted.

“We are really desperate. “We are in chaos,” Shakhtar defender Marlon Santis posted on Instagram. We have the support of our club. The desperation is crushing. We are waiting for support from our country. We are speaking in the name all the Brazilians living in Ukraine.

Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar posted the video to his Instagram account and said he was praying for his Ukrainian countrymen. Brazilian top clubs also shared the video and urged authorities to act.

Similar messages were also posted by Brazilian players who are living in Ukraine. These included forward Marlyson, two of his teammates from Metalist 1925, in the northeastern region of Kharkiv near the Russian border, as well as three Zaporizhzhia Luhansk players.

Brazil’s foreign minister Carlos Franca stated during a live TV broadcast, that any Brazilians who are based in Ukraine will be “expelled only once we have the security conditions necessary to do so.”

He said that the government intends to transport Brazilians by land to neighbouring countries if it is possible.

Franca, who was sitting next to Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last week, said that “We aren’t ruling out any possibility” (to evacuate Brazilians). Bolsonaro, who is a passionate soccer fan, stated in the same broadcast that he wanted peace in the region but did not criticize Putin’s invasion.

Franca said, “Have patience.” “It is important to be patient and cautious now.”

After martial law in Ukraine was declared, the Ukrainian league was temporarily suspended.

Since the beginning, Ukrainian clubs have recruited Brazilian players to improve their field performance and make a profit on the transfer market. Many young Brazilian players see the Ukrainian league in Ukraine as an opportunity to showcase their talents to European clubs, particularly if they are playing for Champions League regulars Shakhtar or Dynamo. Shakhtar lists eleven Brazilian players in its first team squad, as well as Junior Moraes (a naturalized Ukrainian citizen).

Shakhtar and Zorya were both born in eastern Ukraine, but they have not been able play in their homeland since 2014 when Russia-backed separatists overtook their cities.