It’s a rainy day in Lviv, and not exactly the kind of weather conducive to going down to the Fan Zone to watch the Ukraine v. Sweden match on the big screen that, as one German media outlet reported, “descended on downtown’s main boulevard like a giant UFO.” But there’s time for the sky to clear before match time.
And there’s time to clear the air about the reporting of a scuffle outside the fan zone that occurred on Friday night.
If you read my last entry, you’ll remember how interesting I found that most of the fans were booing when Russia touched the ball, but that the two little pockets of Russian fans cheered lustily while their team went on to win the match 4-1 over Croatia. I can imagine that the Russian fans were feeling full of confidence borrowed from their men in red on their way out of the Fan Zone. That may have led to the way one of them reacted after one-too-many insults. He went after a Ukrainian fan. Friends and the omnipresent police diffused the situation before it got very far. The Reuters news agency photographer snapped a shot of the action, and the Reuters reporter, David Ljunggren, filed a story. In “Ukraine, Russian fans scuffle in Lviv,” he said,
“Around 15 Russian fans, delighted at their side’s impressive 4-1 win over the Czech Republic, left the zone and started shouting and swearing at a smaller group of Ukrainians, said Reuters photographer Marian Striltsiv.
“The two sides exchanged a few punches before local police quickly moved in and separated the combatants. No arrests were made.
“One picture taken by a local agency showed a man with blood streaming from his nose.
“Police denied there had been any violence and said they had prevented the two sides from fighting. “
The Reuters story was picked up by the Associated Press. Vanessa Gera reported the news from Warsaw that fans of Russia had attacked stewards at the Wroclaw Stadium as the game between Russia and Croatia was going on. Indeed, they were behaving badly; the television coverage briefly showed a flare being thrown onto the field, but seemed to be able to avoid showing any more untoward activity on that side of the stadium. But that was not Gera’s focus. In the second sentence of her report she says, “Russia fans also were involved in a brawl with Ukrainian supporters near Lviv’s fan zone.”
Oops, never mind: her credibility is blown when, further down, she refers to “the Polish city of Lviv.” As you all know by now, Lviv is in Ukraine!
But Lviv’s location is not common knowledge. ABC News and ESPN picked up the AP story, but did not correct the geography. So Lviv is “Polish” for all the world to see according to these trusted news sources.
With regard to the scuffle, Gera says, “a fight broke out between about 10 supporters of Russia and Ukraine outside the football fan zone after Russia beat Czech Republic 4-1, police spokeswoman Svitlana Dobrovolska said.
“About six Russia fans waving the black, yellow and white flag of the Russian empire and four supporters of the Ukrainian team dressed in the national colors of blue and yellow grappled and punched each before police intervened to stop the fight. The fans were separated, told to behave and released, Dobrovolska said.
“‘It was nothing serious,’ she said.”
I’d still like to know what makes a drunken roll in the dirt a brawl. And what makes the fans “Russian?” They were supporters of Russia, but could as easily have been just as Ukrainian as the “Ukrainian” fans. After all, it’s complicated around here.
What’s not complicated is the way the Reuters “scuffle” became the “AP’s “brawl,” to end up as the Toronto Sun’s violent “clash.” In his story “Violence erupts after Euro,” the Sun’s Mike Zeisberger says, “Observers in Lviv, Ukraine reported the butting of heads between small groups of Russians and local Ukrainians as they exited the Fan Zone in that city. Police apparently came in to break up the clashes.” This “clash” supports his claim that “violence has replaced racism as the ugliest wart blemishing Euro 2012.”
Here’s a piece that describes a brawl that occurred Saturday night: “Police said the alcohol-fueled melee involved about 15 people at the corner of Roxton Rd. and Dundas St. W., near Ossington Ave. around 2 a.m. Two men were taken to a local trauma centre with upper-torso stab wounds while another was hospitalized for a head injury. Two other people suffered assault-related injuries.” That brawl took place in Toronto.
And no good reason to escalate an argument? How about the Auburn football players shot to death Saturday night at a party in an argument over a woman?
Well, the sky is clearing already, so I am hopeful for a fun time in the Lviv Fan Zone tonight, where thousands of people have been gathering night after night in a “holiday atmosphere,” according to one German newspaper, to watch the European football championships. Too bad about that guy who got a bloody nose. But all in all, I’d rather be in Lviv.