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Ukraine fans voice anger at Euro 2016 visa rejections

Ukraine fans voice anger at Euro 2016 visa rejections
Football fans from Ukraine hoping to visit France to support their team at the Euro 2016 tournament this month are having difficulty in being granted visas, according to local media.

Traveling to Europe has become more difficult for Ukrainians, with the number of documents required to obtain a Schengen visa increasing, according to a report in Ukraine’s Vesti

The publication also noted an increase in the number of rejections in applications, including the case of the family of eight-year-old fan Volodymyr Bobenchyk, from Lvov, who was hoping to travel to the tournament.

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"Despite the availability of tickets for Euro 2016, the previous ‘Schengen’ [visa], return plane tickets, hotel bookings, and the required amount of money, me, my husband and son were rejected,” said the boy’s mother, Maryana Bobenchyk.

She added that they had received a formal reply from the French consulate stating, "purpose of the trip not proved," and that the consul had decided the information about the stay "does not look convincing."

Football-mad Volodymyr is an avid Ukraine fan and has even served as the team's mascot. His Facebook page is festooned with pictures of him playing the game and with famous players, and even having his photo taken with President Petro Poroshenko.  

Oleksandr Sushko, research director at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kiev, also wrote in a Facebook post that this was not an isolated case and that dozens of fans had been refused, with thousands more who submitted applications weeks ago still waiting to hear if they had been accepted.   

The difficulties come despite promises from France that simplified visa procedures would be in place for fans hoping to head to the tournament, which kicks off in Paris next Friday, June 10.

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Ukraine is in Group C alongside Germany, Poland and Northern Ireland, with the team’s first fixture coming  against the Germans on Sunday, June 12.