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Did Romanian football fans shout Putin slogans? DW 21/06/2024

Did Romanian football fans shout Putin slogans?  DW 21/06/2024
Did Romanian football fans shout Putin slogans?  DW 21/06/2024


On Monday, Romania played against Ukraine in Munich during the EURO 2024 football championship and won the first match of the tournament 3-0.

After the match, a video went viral on social media, showing Romanian fans in the stadium chanting “Putin, Putin”, apparently in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

One of the messages on X has been viewed almost two million times. The video spread widely and was shared in several languages, such as Russian, German, Czech, Chinese, Arabicand on other platforms such as YouTubeTelegram and TikTok.

The fans in the stadium were filmed from behind, making it impossible to identify their lip movements.

But there is another version of the video circulating where the audio is different, like here X messagein Polish. In this version, the fans don't shout “Putin, Putin,” but “Putin khuylo.” This word, which roughly translates as 'd**khead', is used in Russian and Ukrainian. The anti-Putin song has been widely used since at least 2014 when Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. In general, it is used not only by Ukrainians, but also used collected in different countriesalso.

This version of the videowith the “Putin Khuylo” audio has also spread widely, and many people claimed this is the original audioand that the “Putin, Putin” chants had been manipulated.

So who is right?

Claim: Two videos show Romanian fans in the stadium chanting pro-Putin or anti-Putin slogans during their match against Ukraine.

DW fact check: Both audio versions of the video are fake.

Screenshots of X-posts claiming Romanian football fans chanted pro or anti-Putin slogans
Screenshots of X-posts claiming Romanian football fans chanted pro or anti-Putin slogans. Both audio files appear to have been manipulated.Image:

DW does not have access to the original video file that could prove which version is correct. But we spoke to two people who were at the stadium and very close to where the viral video was shot. Both testify that they did not hear any of the slogans.

One of them is Cristian Stefanescu, a journalist for DW's Romanian service. He was in block 307, row 16, seat 14. This is near the top of the stadium in Munich and at goal line level. This means that Stefanescu watched the match from the same area where the viral video was filmed.

Stefanescu is even visible from behind in the viral video (highlighted in the screenshot). He identified himself after reviewing the video with DW's fact-checking team.

DW journalist Cristian Stefanescu is visible from behind in the stands in a screenshot of a tweet sharing the doctored video
In the viral clip, DW journalist Cristian Stefanescu is visible from the back of the stands

It appears the DW journalist was standing two rows in front and slightly to the right of the person filming. DW factcheck analyzed videos and photos that Stefanescu took at the stadium and was able to verify the location by comparing different references. points.

At the beginning and end of the viral clip, there is a dark-haired man in a red sweater who looks like Romania's current away kit. There is a white J on the right shoulder, which stands for Joma, a sportswear brand. This man is wearing glasses that are clearly visible from seconds six through eight in the clip. To his right stands another dark-haired man in a yellow sweater with stubble, who wears bracelets or wristbands on both wrists.

DW fact check also identified these two men in a video that took Stefanescu from his position.

Screenshot from a viral video and from a video by Cristian Stefanescu with highlighted areas that help identify the same two people in the images
Right: Screenshot taken from the viral video. Left: The same two people in a video screenshot taken by DW journalist Cristian StefanescuImage: X/DW

DW also spoke to an acquaintance of Stefanescu, who was watching the match two seats further to the right. He said he was aware of the video version circulating with the slogan “Putin Khuylo”. But as with Stefanescu, he emphasized that he did not hear either slogan chanted.

Because both witnesses were so close to the position of the person filming, it is very unlikely that they missed the chants, especially since any sound suggests that the entire block was shouting.

DW journalist Cristian Stefanescu with his ticket on the phone
DW journalist Cristian Stefanescu with his ticket on the phone Image: Uta Steinwehr/DW

Did the fans celebrate a goal?

Let's take a closer look at the viral video to get an idea of ​​what the fans were actually singing.

The first clues are the video walls mounted under the roof of the stadium. For brief moments, these video walls display the word 'GOAL' in capital letters three times. This is also visible on a posted video on Instagram by Spanish sports media Marca.

Admittedly, the quality of the manipulated video is poor and it is difficult to identify the word 'GOAL' with certainty.

But an analysis of the position of the sun and shadow can help determine the approximate time of filming, and whether it was indeed around the time of a goal.

In the viral video, the sun just hits the goal line, near the corner of the field.

To compare the position of the sun, DW looked at a recording of the match offered by the German public broadcaster ARD. Romania scored for the first time in the 29th minute. Two minutes later, the camera points to the area we see in the viral video: the corner flag and several inches of the goal line are illuminated by sunlight. The corner flag had been in the shadows shortly before.

Due to rights restrictions, DW is unable to show a screenshot of the official match recording. But Stefanescu's photos show how quickly the shadow moved. In the first photo on the left, taken during the opening ceremony minutes before the match started at 3pm local time, the sun was still a few meters from the goal line. In another photo taken over an hour later, at the start of the second half, the shadow had already moved a few meters to the right of the goal line.

Composition of three photos taken at different times showing the shadow of the stadium roof on the field
The composition shows how the sun and shadow moved. Left: photo taken at 2:52 PM during the opening ceremony shortly before kick-off, center: the position of the sun in the viral video, right: photo taken at 4:02 PM at the kick-off of the second halfImage: DW, Cristian Stefanescu | X | DW, Christian Stefanescu

This means that the viral video was indeed made around the time of Romania's first goal. And it reinforces the idea that the 'GOAL' animation was shown in the stadium.

So it seems unlikely that Romanian fans were actually chanting slogans related to Putin, especially as they must have been celebrating the team's first goal in its first match at a European football championship since 2016.

DW's analysis and eyewitness accounts lead us to the conclusion that the two audio tracks with Putin slogans are not authentic and have been manipulated.

Ines Eisele contributed to this report.

Edited by: Thomas Sparrow




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