All of these events definitely increase the feeling of a united nation: sports tournaments, music competitions like Eurovision, all this increases the feeling of belonging to the nation and to the state,” Olexiy Haran said. “It actually increased within Ukrainians their understanding that they are a European nation. They were doing it together with a member of the EU (co-hosting with Poland). So I would say it was part of a self-identification that we are a part of Europe.”
Haran, who was so careful not to overstate the tournament’s influence, did give credit to young supporters in various parts of the country for the part they played in Ukraine’s unified front when it seemed as though at any moment everything might splinter. “The soccer fans were very patriotic and supportive of Ukrainian unity when Putin attacked Ukraine,” Haran said. “They had this saying, in Russian:‘From Donbas in the East to the mountains in the West Soccer fans in Ukraine are brothers and friends’
From Donbas in the East to the mountains in the West Soccer fans in Ukraine are brothers and friends
This was very important, because when Putin tried to organize a Russian Spring in Odessa and Kharkiv, these young groups were proponents of Ukraine.