Ukrainian football club fined for speaking Russian
Ukrainian Premier League team NK Veres Rivne have been sanctioned by the national football authorities after players reportedly conducted interviews in Russian following a recent match.
Veres confirmed the fine on the official club website, explaining that the 'violation' had occurred after the meeting with Dynamo Kiev earlier in December.
“The decision is not subject to appeal,” the statement added, without revealing the size of the fine.
The language in question was not mentioned in the club’s press release but is widely reported as being Russian.
Officials at Veres promised that players would conduct interviews only in Ukrainian from now on, and said that anyone unable to do so would be given lessons.
“For those football players or other employees of the club who speak the state language at an insufficient level in their opinion, the club is ready to organize courses in Ukrainian,” Veres vowed.
“This decision does not apply to representatives of the club who are citizens of other states.”
Veres president Ivan Nadein previously said he supports the policy of Ukrainian-only for players when speaking to the media.
“My personal position is that if a football player has a Ukrainian passport, then public interviews, comments to the official broadcaster, and media representatives must be given in Ukrainian,” said the Veres boss.
“I also understand that there are footballers who don’t know Ukrainian well. Now there is a tendency that they are even a little ashamed of it.
“[But] information messages for the press from the club’s employees should be in Ukrainian.”
The supposedly incriminating interviews came after Veres lost 3-0 to visitors Dynamo Kiev on December 4, a game in which they had a man sent off.
🔴⚫️ Поступаємося у матчі 17-го туру Динамо з рахунком 0:3.Дякуємо за гру, команда!Дякуємо усім вболівальникам, що підтримували нас у цьому матчі ❤️ pic.twitter.com/nhoYmjZnQo— NK VERES RIVNE (@veres_club) December 4, 2021
Veres hail from Rivne in western Ukraine but currently play home matches in Lutsk, around 70km away.
They stand ninth in the Ukrainian Premier League table after 18 rounds of matches, in their first season back in the top tier after winning promotion.
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The use of Russian has become a contentious topic in Ukraine despite around one in three members of the population speaking it natively.
Since the ‘Maidan’ unrest of 2014, Ukraine’s leaders have imposed a series of measures aimed at squeezing Russian out of daily life.
Public service workers are prohibited from greeting clients in Russian and can only change at their customer’s request.
Russia has consistently decried the steps as divisive and discriminatory against Ukraine’s Russian-speakers.
Discussing the fine dished out to Veres, Russian State Duma Deputy Dmitry Svishchev described it as “Russophobia.”
“It’s some kind of nightmare,” the official told Sport24.
“It’s very strange, we live in a civilized world, we say that sports should not know political and linguistic boundaries, and at the same time we allow such absurd things.
“This is unlimited nonsense. It is very disappointing to see such things in modern society.
“The Russophobic campaign continues. I think the Russian-speaking population should support football players who want to speak their native language.
“To prohibit speaking in Russian in an already tense situation between our countries is a sheer provocation.”