Mass racist assembly in Kiev Stadium

 Condemn this growing fascism!

Commentary by TONY SEED

Ukrainian soccer fans in Lviv doing a Nazi salute against their own team member. (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

Ukrainian soccer fans in Lviv doing a Nazi salute against their own team member | YouTube screenshot

This video from May 2014 shows a mass, disturbing demonstration of racism and Russiaphobia. Under the banners of the Nazi Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector), the stadium sings “Those that do not jump are Russian” (using as Russian a word that is a degrading epithet, moskal):

Many Eastern European states bordering Russia have witnessed a rise in racism, anti-semitism and far-right political activities over the past two decades. Over the same period football, which mirrors so many political and social developments, has also seen overt examples of these problems across the region. (For a detailed list of incidents during the fall of 2014, see article here on this website.)

This 2010 video published by FARE illustrates clear examples of racist and fascist behaviour at Ukrainian stadiums:

On December 3, 2014 Amateur Sport produced a report that Oleksandr Hlyvynskyi, press attaché of Ukraine’s national football team, had openly asked UEFA for permission to use Nazi “SS-Galicia” logos. The “14th SS-Volunteer Division ‘Galizien’ from World War II” was initially made up of Ukrainians that fought for Nazi Germany, a fascist battalion. Its flag bears a lion and Ukraine’s colours of blue and yellow and is predominant in Western Ukraine.

The racist and fascist spirit propagating itself in Central and Western Ukraine is highly unsettling. It does not represent the democratic, anti-fascist values of the people of Ukraine nor of Europe. It could not exist for a minute without the support of powerful sponsors such as NATO and the United States. To take but one example, on April 5, 2015, Kiev appointed Dmytro Yarosh, head of the neo-Nazi Right Sector (Pravy/Pravyi Sektor), as an advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces that are now to all intents and purposes under U.S. command through the U.S.-Ukrainian Military Commission, of which the only other member is Canada. Right Sector has an office in Mississauga, Ontario and openly recruits in Canada and raises money for arms through activities organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, which is funded by the Canadian government.

All the major football clubs in Ukraine are owned by a tiny clique of extremely rich oligarchs. Thus, Shaktar Donetsk belongs to Rinat Akhmetov, the wealthiest of the Ukrainian oligarchs; Dynamo Kiev to Gregory (Grigory) Surkis who reportedly controls the Ukrainian football federation; and so on. [1]

According to the press attaché Hlyvynski, in a situation where “Ukraine is conducting a national-liberation struggle” (sic),  slogans such as “Glory to Ukraine!” “Glory to heroes!” “Ukraine above all,” and “Glory to the nation” are simply a matter of perception. “We have yet to win back our symbols and to uphold them. These are the trident and the blue-and-yellow flag, Roman Shukhevich and Stepan Bandera, because we still have to argue that they are not fascists,” he said. Bandera and Shukhevich were murderers and criminals. The two fascists were head of the so-called Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which killed about 90,000 Polish and Jewish civilians. This is objective historical fact, not perception.

Amateur Sport has also documented the FIFA sanction against Arena Lviv in Western Ukraine, which was barred from staging qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. The main sponsor of FC Lviv is the insurance monopoly Knyazha; other sponsors include DobromylPersha (brewery) and the technical sponsor is Lotto. Supporters of the club have the reputation of being “nationalist thugs”. (Markus Reher, “Could Ukrainian hooligans hamper EURO 2012?”Deutsche Welle. May 24, 2012, Retrieved 24 May 2012.). If they had foreign players at the club, they would send them back home if they could.

The Ukrainian football federation was also fined 45,000 Swiss francs ($50,000), after fans racially abused their own black player and made Nazi salutes at a World Cup qualifying match on September 6, 2013. The monitoring group FARE reported “Nazi salutes and racist monkey noises targeting Edmar,” a Brazil-born Ukraine international player who is black, and that “neo-Nazi banners were on display.”

You will not see any such reports of Ukraine in the sports media in Canada. As far back as December 2013 University of Ottawa professor Ivan Katchanovski, speaking of the Euromaidan, observed how the

“media have largely become cheerleaders for the mass protests: web-based Ukrainska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth) openly changed its name to Europeiska Pravda (European Truth). These media outlets speculated that the violent attacks should be attributed to Bratstvo or unknown provocateurs. At the same time they suppressed evidence of radical nationalist and neo-Nazi groups inciting their football fans to violence among the largely peaceful protests, and inflated anti-government numbers at the biggest rally on 1 December. The TV channel Inter, for example, is controlled by oligarch Dmitry Firtash, whose deputies deserted the Yanukovych Party of Regions. (Ivan Katchanovski, “Sizing up Ukraine’s Euromaidan,” 3 December 2013)

Instead, the monopoly media is publishing a spate of reports, emphasizing racism in football, above all Russia, as if it is the people themselves whom are racist and responsible for the rise in organized hooliganism.

More recently, Chelsea have suspended three people from their Stamford Bridge stadium following an investigation into a racist incident, captured in amateur video footage on the Paris metro, the club said on Thursday, Feb. 19. According to Reuters, the video appeared to show fans of the London team chanting “we’re racist and that’s the way we like it” as they stopped a Black man boarding a train on Tuesday.

This ugly phenomena clashes with a modern and human-centred conception of sport based on the people and the rights of all. It seems clear that FIFA, itself a Eurocentric sports body, nor EUFA with their sanctions, warnings and slap on the wrists are both unable or unwilling to come to grips with the politicization of sport. The problems facing sport and society in Europe are not going to be resolved at the executive level but, at minimum, the Ukrainian football federation must be suspended.


1.Tavria Simferopol in Crimea would have gone under in 2014 since its owner, Dmitry Firtash, had more pressing concerns. He was out on bail in Austria while the US sought his extradition over federal bribery charges involving a $500 million Indian mining project. Firtash’s base is RosUkrEnergo, energy production and chemicals, and the main partner of Rothschild in Ukraine. According to Andrei Fursov, a Russian sociologist, historian and writer and publicist (author of several books on modern history), “He is considered by experts to be the instigator of the gas wars between Ukraine and Russia. He was the one getting Ukraine and Russia to fight over gas.” (“Oligarchical topography of Ukraine: A lecture by Andrei Fursov.”)


Outrageous! Ukraine asks UEFA for permission to use Nazi SS symbols, December 3, 2014

FARE report on monitoring racism, discrimination and hate crime in Polish and Ukrainian football 2009-2011


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