Ukrainian club Shakhtar 'expresses outrage' at Barcelona over message to Russia
FC Shakhtar Donetsk has demanded that FC Barcelona apologize after two of its players recorded a video message thanking Russian fans for their support. Despite its Donbass roots, FC Shakhtar relocated to Lviv in western Ukraine in 2014 and has since embraced the nationalism of its new home city.
Barcelona’s Alejandro Balde and Sergi Roberto recently recorded a short video message thanking fans in Russia for their support this season. The video, which was recorded in Spanish, was posted to Telegram with Russian subtitles by the Russian network that broadcasts La Liga games.
“A big hello to all Barcelona fans in Russia! See you soon!” Balde said.
Shakhtar Donetsk Director Sergey Palkin was furious. “We hope FC Barcelona realizes that their support for a country like Russia is completely unacceptable at this time,” he said in a statement on Monday. “We expect the club to admit its mistake and avoid similar situations in the future.”
“The whole world united to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people and condemned the invasion,” he wrote. “And then we see the players of one of the world’s top clubs, Barcelona, address the Russians, expressing their gratitude and support to them. We consider this an intolerable and simply immoral act.”
Neither Balde or Roberto mentioned the Russian state or Russian military in the video. Nevertheless, Ukrainian clubs FC Desna and Dynamo Kiev have also joined in the condemnation, with Dynamo calling the video the “disgrace of the day.”
Since its foundation in the 1930s, Shakhtar Donetsk has been the pride of the city of Donetsk, and all of the club’s head coaches have spoken Russian, except for its current coach, Igor Jovicevic. FC Shakhtar left Donetsk in 2014 and relocated to Lviv, and then to Kiev, and the word ‘Donetsk’ is now almost completely absent from the club’s social media profiles and promotional materials.
On its social media accounts, Shakhtar Donetsk regularly condemns Russia and praises the same Ukrainian military that spent eight years shelling the civilian population of Donetsk after the team relocated to Lviv.