First swastika at a football match


A highly unpleasant incident took place on 19 August during a football match between the Kyiv team “Dynamo” and “Carpaty” from Lviv.  The match was being played in Kyiv, and in the guest sector, holding around 200 Lviv fans, a Nazi flag was unfurled.  Within minutes those responsible were moved out of the area by “Dynamo’s” security people, however they were not detained and their identity was not ascertained.

This unprecedented incident for Ukrainian football did not end there since FIFA comes down very heavily on such behaviour which also reflects badly on the country, especially given the fact that Ukraine will, together with Poland, be hosting the European Football Championship.

The Lviv people immediately said that they had had nothing to do with the outrageous event.  “Carparty” did, however, on behalf of the genuine fans of their team extend their sincere apology to the people of Kyiv, a city which has hero status from the War.

According to the executive director of the Professional Football League, if it is found that “Carpathy” fans were responsible, the Lviv team will be fined around 15 thousand dollars and other penalties. If that is not proven, then “Dynamo” will face the same penalties.

A meeting of the Professional Football League took place on 28 August and decided to pass the case to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for further investigation since there is no way at present of coming to a final decision. According to a lawyer involved, the case could fall under Article 161 (deliberate actions aimed at inciting ethnic, racial or religious enmity and hatred) or 296 (hooliganism).

In any case Ukrainian football and the country as a whole have suffered from this. Even if those responsible are found, it will be difficult to prosecute them with such propagandizing fascism generally going unpunished. Witnesses say that the “Sieg Heil” was not only from the “Carpathy” fan sector. It is hardly news that ultra-right sentiments are popular among football fans.  Is this how hotheads think they can spur on their team?  If this had happened a year earlier, it might have influenced the decision over Euro 2012.

This has been a major problem in other countries. It was the first time in Ukraine, we can but hope it is the last.

Adapted from a text by Serhiy Bunin

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