If it is ‘viva la France’ why not ‘slava Ukraine’?

By Robin Toskin: Thursday, July 12th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Sports
A supporter of team Croatia gestures during a gathering in the city centre. [Photo/Reuters]

Russia’s neighbours Ukraine have added a new twist on Fifa’s decision to warn Croatia play Demagoj Vida for his ‘Glory to Ukraine’ chant.

World football governing body has slapped a Sh1.5 million fine on the Croatian assistant coach Ognjen Vukojevi?, who has also lost his national team job.

The Croatian player, Vida, has escaped with a warning, but Ukraine feels Fifa’s actions are despotic and British media’s understanding of the chant is conceited.

Vida and team’s coach Vukojevi? posted a video on July after Croatia beat Russia 4-3 on post match penalties, where the player chants ‘Glory to Ukraine’ and Vukojevi? says: “This win is for Dynamo and for Ukraine. Go, Croatia!”

The British media lurched onto the video, spanned it attracting Fifa’s interest. Leading British media outlets reported that Ukrainian soldiers and nationalists opposed to Russia’s annexation of Crimea have been chanting ‘Slava Ukraine’ slogan.

But the Ukrainians insist: “Slava Ukraine means ‘Glory to Ukraine’ a patriotic expression like ‘viva la France’, ‘long live the Queen, or ‘Let Poland be Poland’,” a statement by the Ukraine Embassy in England says.

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“Will you call those who chant these phrases nationalists and boo them?” Ukrainian diplomats argue.

Fifa rules do not allow political statements by all those bound by its code of ethics, players and coaches included.

Ukraine was part of USSR until its collapse in 1991 following a restructuring under Mikhail Gorbachev

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