Battling on and off the pitch is not all Tuesday’s Euro 2012 match between Poland and Russia will be remembered for. A colossal banner unfurled by the Russian fans on the stands turned into a hot topic for discussion after the game.
The huge piece of fabric read “This is Russia”, and apparently depicted Dmitry Pozharsky, the country’s hero, who led Russia against the Polish-Lithuanian invasion in the early 1600s, a period known as the Time of Troubles.
The prince later obtained the unprecedented title Savior of the Motherland from Tsar Michael I, the first of the ruling Romanov dynasty.
Before the match, racism monitoring group Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) alerted UEFA about the banner, finding it far-right extremist and offensive to Poles. However, it was allowed to remain for the duration of the match.
European football’s governing body have since confirmed that they are to launch an investigation into the case, though they have much else to consider beforehand. They will first deal with the monkey chants aimed at Dutch players, Italian forward Mario Balotelli and Czech right-back Theo Gebre Selassie, and the 183 arrests made before and after Tuesday’s game in Warsaw.
If they find the banner offensive in any way the Russian Football Union may face serious fines.