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7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.

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Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.

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Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.

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Ukrainian Culture

The TANGO 12

Sixteen teams. Two hosts. One ball. Its a Tango to the death.
If youve been here in Kyiv for any amount of time in previous weeks, youll probably have noticed the football themed GLOBUS canopy. Although the raison dêtre of this canopy is purely for marketing and commercial purposes, the Tango 12 (official match ball of EURO 2012) illustrates with remarkable clarity just how sensitive a topic the aforementioned tournament is.

Adidas have very successfully created a ball that apparently pleases just about everyone. It illustrates the cultural differences of the two host nations, all whilst embracing their cultural similitudes and aiming to please players and fans alike. Isnt that quite a lot to be done by a simple ball? If youre not convinced read on.

A Fashionable Football 
Firstly, it is important to point out that EURO 2012 is being co-hosted by two historically rival countries, Poland and Ukraine. As a result of this, the two countries have had to be equally represented in the advertising campaigns and on the TANGO 12. Indeed, we notice that very diplomatically, both flags have been incorporated into the balls colour scheme so as not to have anyones feelings hurt. Now, having the two flags side by side brings the two cultures together for some, but reinforces the cultural divide for others. That said, cultural divide isnt necessarily a bad thing, especially in football where the aim of the game remains to win against an opponent.
If cultural difference and rivalry between teams is to be encouraged, racism and hooliganism certainly isnt. Unfortunately hooliganism and racism is a reoccurring, sometimes violent and deadly issue in Ukraine. The solution is to incorporate an element of cultural heritage, truly Ukrainian and Polish at the same time. 
The common cultural element chosen was the vytynanky, or the traditional craft of paper cutting practiced in rural Ukraine and Poland. Rather than just placing these vytynanky motifs on the balls surface to look cool (which they do), they were carefully placed to convey a degree of unity between the two host nations. Modernised and stylised, these vytynanky motifs complement the EURO 2012 theme (rivalry, unity and passion) without making the ball look like one big Easter egg.
 
30 Balls, Still Lots of Questions 
Following the scandal caused by the Jabulani ball, released for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Adidas was very careful not to cause another upset. They opted for a classic ball with a predictable flight path, based on the original 1978 Tango, so as to stick with a winning formula. As of now, Adidas has put forward that Tango 12 takes the place as their most tested ball ever. All competing countries were given a set of 30 balls to practice with before the tournament, and so far, player/coach feedback has been positive.
This having been said, the balls real trial will be on 8 June when the tournament kicks off in Warsaw. Ukraine coach and former football star Oleh Blokhin has expressed that no matter what (yes, state of the art Tango 12 included!), reaching the final stages for his team will be no easy task. Star striker Shevchenko has expressed anticipation and confidence, saying, We are a young team, working hard preparing for the finals. I am confident the youngsters will perform with dignity at EURO 2012. Its a matter of pride and honour for all of us. The Tango 12s goal here though is to keep the players and the multinational fans happy, and what better to do that with than an already appreciated favourite. 
Although Tango 12 has targeted many issues, such as representing Polish and Ukrainian differences, all whilst expressing cultural common ground and customer satisfaction, many issues remain. Will hotel rates be ridiculously high for my stay in Ukraine? Is racism and hooliganism going to be a problem if I do make the trip to Poland/Ukraine? Are the stadiums ready to take large crowds of supporters? Will the overall atmosphere be pleasant? All these are questions that can be asked by the average football tourist as he or she considers whether the long (for some) and costly trip to Eastern Europe is worth it or not. For the time being, all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope for no more unnecessary drama regarding EURO 2012.  

Matthieu Court

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Comments (2)
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Read also:
  • When Walls Can Talk
  • Rights We Didnt Know We Had
  • The Path to Europe Begins Here...
  • Documenting Life
  • Head into 2014 Healthy

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.


    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.

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