Commentator Martin Tyler's Ukraine gaffe divides football world

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Pictured right, football commentator Martin Tyler and heartbroken Ukraine players on the left.
Commentator Martin Tyler was forced to apologise for comments he made during Ukraine's World Cup qualifying play-off final defeat to Wales. Pic: Getty

Iconic commentator Martin Tyler has been forced to apologise after an on-air comment about Ukraine's goalkeeper sparked backlash in the football world.

Tyler was calling Ukraine's heartbreaking World Cup qualifying play-off final defeat to Wales, that ended the war-torn nation's hopes of playing in the Qatar showpiece later this year.

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Ukraine's World Cup dream was ended in a cruel 1-0 defeat to Wales, with an own goal from Ukraine winger Andriy Yarmolenko proving the difference between the sides.

Commentating the match for Sky Sports, Tyler caused a storm on social media after saying Ukraine goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan would have to "soldier on" after hurting his ankle trying to punch a cross clear.

Tyler didn't think twice about using a term that is frequently heard in sporting contests, but in the context of the war ravaging the people of Ukraine, it was an insensitive choice of words.

The veteran broadcaster quickly realised his mistake an issued an apology to any viewers that may have been offended.

One fan posted: "Martin Tyler just said the Ukrainian goalkeeper will 'soldier on' and promptly apologised for saying that. He’s genuinely just awful. #WALUKR."

The incident prompted a wave of backlash on social media, with some disgusted by Tyler's gaffe and others insisting he had nothing to be sorry for.

Wales end 64-year World Cup drought

For Wales, the 1-0 victory - secured in the 34th minute in the Cardiff downpour - ended a 64-year wait to once again play on the biggest stage in world football.

It marks the longest gap for Wales between qualifications for the FIFA showpiece.

"It's the greatest result in the history of Welsh football," Wales captain Gareth Bale said.

"I'm just delighted we are going to a World Cup. It means everything, it's what dreams are made of. I'm speechless. I'm so glad we've done it for these amazing fans."

Bale was one of those spectators for the remaining 10 minutes or so after being substituted when his body could offer no more.

"It was difficult," he said.

"I haven't played too much football these last three or four weeks because of my back spasm, but the most important thing was to get through. I give my all. I was running on empty."

Pictured centre, Gareth Bale of Wales and his teammates celebrate after qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Gareth Bale of Wales (C) and his teammates celebrate after qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Pic: Getty

The trip to Qatar gives Bale - British soccer's most decorated foreign export at Real Madrid - a chance to finally play on the sport's biggest stage.

But the five-time Champions League winner is without a club for next season after being released by Madrid. While saying he has "loads" of offers, the 32-year-old free agent had been coy about his playing future.

Now there is a new club to find to stay match fit for the November 21 World Cup opener against the United States. Then there is Iran and neighbours England to play in Group B.

"It's amazing ... It's unbelievable - little old Wales at the World Cup," midfielder Aaron Ramsey said.

Wales owed goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey a huge thanks after he thwarted nine shots on target to prevent Ukraine scoring.

"It's absolutely incredible - not just for me, everybody who's been on this pitch tonight," Hennessey said.

Wales' qualification was achieved amid coaching uncertainty, with Robert Page stepping up to lead the team on a temporary basis in early 2021, with Ryan Giggs still out of the management job while awaiting trial on domestic violence charges.

"I'm so proud of these boys," Page said.

"They thoroughly deserved that. The one thing they needed was a World Cup and they've got it."

with agencies

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