FOOTBALL AND PATRIOTISM

Before yesterday’s match against Sweden the Ukrainian team had statistically been the second-worst team in the EURO-2012 final. Quite understandably, the whole of Kyiv partied late into night after Ukraine’s well-deserved win of 2:1. I was kept awake in what ironically could be described last night as the city’s “bedroom community”: the district was filled with roaring of motorbikes, honking of cars, cannonading fireworks… Even those who are unimpassioned by football may enjoy the moment when a six-year-old boy jumps with a shout of delight throwing up his arms with the national flag after Andriy Shevchenko’s goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHifiJlPVAk

I wish I had the enthusiasm of the fans or the genuine rejoicing of that child. I wish I could identify with the victory and take pride in my country too. However, there seems to be some anomaly with me: amidst the gleeful tumult I cannot forget the injustice committed against the ex-premier and her current imprisonment.  I see the faces of those who were removing the waste round the nuclear reactor years ago and now have their “Chernobyl” pensions cut by half. I hear desperate voices of salesmen in the market whom the police are kicking off because the salesmen didn’t agree to pay the bribe to those who administer the market. I experience a feeling of injury (almost as sharp as physical injury) every time when I see the Ukrainian culture ruined and the language discriminated against…

I tried to look back for some parallels that would illustrate my condition. I think I have found an analogy: the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. With the German team being on top in those days, the Jewish people or Romani (Gypsies) in that country were not particularly enthusiastic about 89 German medals.

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