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UEFA fines Lithuania for anti-Putin football chant

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 21, 2023 4:28 PM 2 min read
Players of Zalgiris Vilnius celebrate after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round match between Zalgiris Vilnius and Galatasaray at LFF Stadium in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 25, 2023. (Jakub Porzycki/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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The Lithuanian Football Federation has appealed a 10,000 euro ($10,600) fine issued by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), after fans chanted derogatory slogans about Russian dictator Vladimir Putin during a match, Lithuanian media outlet LRT.lt reported on Oct. 20.

The match on Sept. 10 was played between the Lithuanian and Serbian national teams in Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city.

Despite the fact that Lithuanian fans have previous chanted such slogans without facing penalties, a UEFA delegate from Kazakhstan was present at the match and imposed the fine, according to LRT.lt.

"This is the first time we have received a fine for this chant," Lithuanian Football Federation President Edgaras Stankevicius told LRT, referring to a popular obscenity that uses Putin’s name.

The Lithuanian Football Federation has applied to receive an explanation from UEFA on the matter, but the chance is low "that they will change or mitigate that fine," Stankevicius said.

"All fans and Lithuania unitedly support this chant," according to Stankevicius. "We will certainly not ask the fans to refrain from this chant."

One of the footballers from the Lithuanian national team, Justas Lasickas, encouraged fans via Instagram to "keep chanting, we will give up our bonuses if necessary."

"We will definitely not ask the players to pay," Stankevicius added.

Lithuania was one of several European countries that said they would join Ukraine in its boycott of UEFA youth matches with Russia, after the union announced on Sept. 26 that it would ease its restrictions to enable Russian U17 teams – comprised of players younger than 18 – to play international matches.

Following the announcement, Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) commented that UEFA's decision "tolerates Russia's aggressive policy."

UEFA reversed its decision on Oct. 10, claiming that it had become too technically difficult to schedule the matches after a dozen of the 55 teams set to play had announced they would boycott the matches.

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