A diplomatic crisis has arisen which has the potential to make Euro 2012 as interesting for politics as for football, and to humiliate UEFA. It demonstrates - not for the first time - the naivety of imagining that sport and politics can be separated. The issue? In October 2011, Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister of Ukraine, was jailed for seven years following a trial that her supporters and many western diplomats condemn as politically motivated and luminously unfair. Tyomoshenko has been on hunger strike since April 20 in protest against her incarceration. She claims to have been assaulted in prison. Now Germany has declared a diplomatic boycott of the competition unless Tymoshenko is released. Other European governments are expected to follow the German lead in putting pressure on Victor Yanukovych, the President of Ukraine, whose human-rights record leaves much to be desired. Sweden has already made a robust diplomatic protest. The possibility of Yanukovycvh watching matches alone as the democratic world shuns him is, in my opinion, delicious. The solution is simple, Mr Yanukovych: release your jailed opponent or face stark humiliation. England play all group games in Ukraine. Full story appears in The Guardian      

Comments

 

Tim, although I don't doubt that the executives of all of these countries would go through with their promise (it will be interesting to see which one gives support first), how will they possibly justify this to the footballing public of each country that couldn't care less about the plight of Ms Tymoshenko? Is it far-fetched to suggest that the average football fan in this country either doesn't know about this story/sees football as more important and therefore futile to boycott? 

Although I, of course, don't agree with the Yanukovych reign of tyranny, I think these governments (ours included, especially in a country with notorious football hooliganism) will have a hard time boycotting something that is set to achieve nationwide popularity and is an event many are looking forward too. 

 

A crisis around Euro 2012