Famous football chant misrepresented as Ukrainians celebrating Crimea bridge blast

A video circulating online purports to show Ukrainians in a packed pub celebrating the country's recent attack on the Kerch bridge linking Russia to annexed Crimea. But the footage is being misrepresented; it shows Wigan Athletic football fans chanting: "Will Grigg's on fire!" in 2016 about the English club's then-striker.

"Ukraine is celebrating the return of a classic. Kerch Bridge is on fire!" says a July 17, 2023 post shared to Twitter and Facebook.

Screenshot from Twitter taken July 19, 2023

Subtitles appended to the 21-second video claim the rowdy bar crowd is singing repeatedly: "Kerch Bridge on fire. Your defence is terrified."

The clip has circulated with the same captioning for months following a fire on the bridge in October 2022. But it resurfaced across platforms and in various languages in July 2023 -- even making its way to a Hungarian TV news station that ran a segment about the supposed Ukrainian celebration.

The recent claims come after Ukrainian forces used waterborne drones to carry out an overnight attack on the Kerch bridge, which serves as a military supply artery connecting mainland Russia to annexed Crimea, according to a Ukrainian source who spoke to AFP.

But the video has been misrepresented. The recording is years-old, and the bar's patrons were not singing: "Kerch Bridge on fire."

In reality, the pub was chanting, "Will Grigg's on fire" -- a reference to a Northern Ireland footballer who now plays for Chesterfield FC.

Reverse image searches revealed the same footage published as early as May 2016, when it appeared in a YouTube video (archived here) calling the tune the "Best Football Chant Ever."

At the time, Grigg was playing for Wigan Athletic. He led the English Football League One in scoring during the 2015-16 season, helping his squad earn promotion to the English Championship League.

The infectious tune, a re-working of Gala's dance anthem "Freed from Desire" that substitutes a tribute to Grigg in place of the song's original words, traces to a YouTube video from Wigan supporter Sean Kennedy in May 2016 (archived here).

The chant became so popular that Grigg's opponents on the international stage were asked about it, Wigan Athletic's chairman gifted Kennedy a free season ticket, and a house remix of the song created by the London-based band Blonde soared to near the top of the United Kingdom's most-downloaded tracks.

A group of Northern Irish fans were even said to have called a local fire station to report that Grigg was in flames, AFP reported.

Other videos show fans of Wigan Athletic and the Northern Ireland national team -- as well as Grigg himself -- singing the same catchy lyrics (archived here, here and here).

AFP has previously debunked other misinformation about Russia's invasion of Ukraine here.

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