Symbology of the terraces - Ukrainian nationalists

In what is likely to severely scupper somebody’s business plans for the Lviv Arena, FIFA have banned the Ukrainian national football team from playing there until the completion of the 2018 World Cup tournament.

Quite rightly given the breaking of FIFA rules.

The offences committed reminiscent of UK football terraces in the late 1970′s/early 1980′s - pyrotechnics aside, which were never popular and quite simply cost prohibitive in these days.

Anti-social and racist undercurrents were though, almost entirely at club level.  I seldom saw it on trips to Wembley to watch internationals.

The 1980s were the days of 1 in 10 unemployment, plus underemployment, a youth disenfranchised from the political class and most of what was around them.

A time of race riots, poll tax riots and a good deal of generally antisocial behaviour.

Whether there are any parallels that can be drawn from the UK terraces of 1980′s, the high unemployment, the disenfranchised youth, a political class that seemed to offer nothing, the anti-social and racist tone etc - and today’s Ukraine, well that is not for me to make any academic links.

The study of nationalism, racism, mob behaviour and the symptoms of unemployment and disenchantment will all, undoubtedly, be studied somewhere.

Anyway, upon the banning of the Ukrainian national team playing in the heartland of Ukrainian nationalism - Lviv - you have to question the timing of the Ukrainian Youth Nationalists petition to FIFA to allow the symbols of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) onto the terraces,


Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)   upa

and the Galacian Lion-  gal lion

All seemingly inoffensive in and of themselves - but then symbols are simply symbols when all is said and done.

It is the associations people have with symbols - good and bad - that shape their opinions and that of governing bodies.

The question has to be asked however, why there is now a desire to have old political and military symbols on Ukrainian terraces when much of Ukraine does not associate itself with these symbols anyway?  In making this application are the Ukrainian Nationalist Youth aiming to offend parts of Ukraine - or others external of Ukraine?  Perhaps both?

What do these symbols mean to others?

With the next Ukrainian game to be played against Poland - who would have some considerable objection to these symbols one has to suspect - it is perhaps as well that the game will now be played behind closed doors and elsewhere other than Lviv.

The chances of these symbols being rehabilitated by FIFA - well they must be slim.

However if they are rehabilitated, it is perhaps justice that the symbols of Galicia so coveted by the nationalists will not be seen on the terraces of an international match within the Galician region for the next 5 years.

Reap as ye sow!

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