Romanian football fans did not chant 'Putin' during Ukraine's Euro 2024 fixture

A doctored video has been shared with a false claim it shows Romanian fans chanting the name of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a Euro 2024 game against Ukraine. The audio overlaid on the footage appears to have been taken from a 2021 fixture -- where Ukrainian fans were heard chanting an anti-Putin slur. AFP reporters and photographers covering Romania's match in 2024 did not hear the chant during the game. The tournament's organiser, UEFA, has also said the claim that circulated online is false. 

"Romania beat 3-0 over Ukraine in Euro 2024 group stage, Romanian fans chant 'Putin' on the stand," read a simplified Chinese caption of a Weibo post shared on June 18, 2024.

Text repeating the false claim also appeared in the video, along with the word Putin in the middle of the clip. 

Screenshot of the false Weibo post, captured on June 20, 2024

The video was shared shortly after the teams clashed in a Euro 2024 group stage game on June 17, 2024, which Romania won 3-0.

Despite their defeat, Ukrainian players emerged onto the pitch with national flags draped over their shoulders to mark their country's first fixture at a major tournament since the Russian invasion in February 2022.

Russia has been suspended by UEFA and barred from competing in the tournament.

The manipulated video went viral in many languages -- with most versions referring to a post by a user called "Lord Bebo" shared in English on social media platform X, which repeated the false claim.

The account has previously shared misinformation about the war in Ukraine debunked by AFP here and here.

Screenshot of the false post shared on X, taken on June 19, 2024

Several media outlets have also written reports based on the altered video in languages such as Hungarian, French, Bulgarian and Russian

It was also shared in German, Thai, Vietnamese, Arabic, Burmese, Korean and Greek by social media users. 

But the claim is false.

Anti-Putin slur

While the quality of the false video is poor, based on the shadow cast by the Allianz Arena Munich stadium walls onto the pitch, the approximate time of the recording can be estimated at around the 34th minute of the game. 

In the official feed of the match, no such chants could be heard around that time. 

It appears the fabricated chant was taken and edited from a clip filmed during a Euro 2020 game -- held in 2021 because of the Covid epidemic -- in which Ukraine played Austria (archived link). 

In the 2021 game, Ukrainian fans could be heard chanting "Putin", followed by an insulting word, drumming and singing.

But the slur was removed and the resulting audio was overlaid on a clip of the 2024 game.

Below is an audio sample created by AFP of the chant heard in the false video, followed by a clip from the 2021 game:

The slur originated in 2014 when Ukrainian football fan groups started chanting "Путін -- хуйл" -- pronounced "Putin khuilo", which translates as "dickhead". It emerged in the context of Ukrainian protests against Russia's annexation of Crimea that year (archived links here and here).

AFP photographers and reporters covering the game did not hear the chant. UEFA also confirmed to AFP on June 18, 2024 that the video was false without giving further comments.

UEFA regularly investigates problematic behaviour by fans during games, as they did in the case of Serbia's game against England on June 16, 2024 after Serbian fans showed flags seen as questioning the independence of Kosovo (archived link).

However, there have been no reports of probes into fans' behaviour during the game between Ukraine and Romania. 

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