EURO 2020: recognizable narratives abound with the beginning of EURO 2020


The Propastop team is monitoring the progress of Euro 2020 (The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship), and not just for the interest of sports.

We are focusing rather on the non-sporting battles surrounding the European Championships, which expose the use of ideology and propagandistic narratives.

Euro2020 has entered a phase of harsh reality. Only the distribution of essential tickets are left, and the reality is harsh and combative around the football field as well.

Propastop’s area of interest is on non-sporting battles that reveal ideologies and opposing propagandistic narratives around the European Championships. Some of them have also been successful penalties.

The first issue UEFA encountered before the start of Euro2020 was the “shirt scandal”. The front of the shirts of the Ukrainian national team originally depicted the contour map of the Ukraine with Crimea and back of the shirt had the slogans “glory to the heroes!” and “honor to Ukraine!”. Russian propaganda took hold of it and a quarrel began.

Actually, the Ukrainian map with Crimea was not the source of the biggest quarrel, but rather the slogan used by Ukrainian nationalists during World War II. Before June 22, eighty years after the Nazi German invasion of the USSR, such a text was unacceptable to the Kremlin. However, UEFA, which originally gave a green light to the design of the shirts, changed its mind and the slogan was removed from the football players’ uniform.

The second scandal also involved Russia and UEFA. Namely, the International Football Association also organized the “Black Lives Matter” kneeling campaign during the European Championships, during which each team had to kneel before the start of the game. As the campaign caused conflicting feelings and each national team decided to take part in the campaign differently, not all teams took part.

The behavior of Russian fans’ resentment was reflected in their behaviour in St. Petersburg during the Belgium-Russia meeting, when the Belgian team kneeling on the field was whistled at from the stands. The public was more shocked by the explanation: Russians do not kneel!

The peculiar reaction of Russian television propaganda was also noticeable. Namely, the guest of RTR’s “flagship”, talk show “60 Minutes”, journalist Andrei Sidortšik described the Ukraine-Austria game in Bucharest as follows: “It is no coincidence that the Nazi nation team plays “You know whose” homeland team in the country where “you know whose” “ally they were in World War II.”

The BBC’s Russian-language editorial board also provided their own overview of the non-sports scandals surrounding Euro2020.

In addition to the above-mentioned uniform scandal and kneeling campaign, the BBC also raised the issue of London’s suitability as a venue. The Italian Prime Minister and the German Chancellor raised this item.

LGBT issues were also highlighted. Rainbow colours ribbons worn by captains Neuer and Ronaldo during the game, the Hungarian homophobic protest and anti-gay and racist shouts by fans in Budapest, which is being investigated by UEFA, as well as the International Football Association’s ban on painting stadiums in rainbow colors.

By the way, the Crimean issue was not the only scandal arising from the territorial issues presented to the public during Euro2020. Azerbaijan revoked the accreditations of Russian journalists for visiting Nagorno-Karabakh, and Greece voiced its resentment in conjunction with the long-running dispute over the name of the northern Macedonian state.

Euro2020 did not pass without a climate change fight. Greenpeace activists organized a parachute jump during the Germany-France game, but unfortunately, the motorized parachute touched the wires of the air camera, injured spectators and fell. The conservationists had to apologize.

As seen above, major sporting events today are accompanied by clear propaganda narratives: territorial claims, ambiguities in history, minority rights and the fight for them, Russophobia, and climate and nature protection.

Unfortunately, the Cold War in sports is not anything new, let us remember the Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984, and we look forward with excitement to the events starting soon.

Photo: Miguel Discart/Flickr/CC