Lahm Critisizes the Ukrainian Government

With the European Championship coming up, I think one should expect controversies. They are an inevitable feature of almost every big competition. This year it looks like one of the popular topics is the political situation in Ukraine. People have been talking about boycotting the championship. According to some articles, Jogi Löw and Philipp Lahm had to take a stand. I am not going to lie: I was against that. Yet, it certainly looks like Lahm did exactly that. This is arguably the first time when I do not agree with him at all. 

Spiegel published the following article:

The captain takes a stand: in his interview with Spiegel, Lahm is the first national player who has expressed his point of view on the human rights issue in the host country, Ukraine, and has criticized the government’s way of handling Yulia Timoshenko’s case.

Philipp Lahm, the captain of the German National Team, has criticized Ukraine’s government for their way of dealing with the imprisoned leader of the opposition, Yulia Timoshenko. In the interview with Spiegel, Lahm says, “I do not find my views on the basic democratic rights, human rights, on issues such as individual freedom and freedom of speech, in agreement with the current political situation in Ukraine. When I see how the government treats Yulia Timoshenko, it has nothing in common with my idea of democracy.

The 28-year-old fullback from Munich expects the UEFA and its president, Michel Platini, to convey a clear message on the issue of human rights in Ukraine, “I think he should take a stand. I am eager to hear what he has to say.” As to the fact that the internal political situation in Ukraine threatens to overshadow the European Championship, Lahm believes that to be unavoidable, “The football has become too big to remain unaffected by it. As I was reading the first reports of Timoshenko’s poor health, I anticipated the direction in which it was going.”

Whether Lahm, in case of the victory ceremony in the final, will shake the Ukrainian President’s [Viktor Yanukovich] hand, the captain of the German team leaves it open, “I would have to seriously ponder on that. As far as I know, the victory ceremony in Kiev will be conducted by the UEFA officials only.”

translation ©  unavis

We often speak of distinguishing between politics and sports. We wish to separate them although they strive to intertwine, and I believe that is the right thing to do. But can we resist the vast arena that, in this case, the world of football offers to those who wish to express their point of view? I did not want Philipp to speak on the issue. I understand that he had to, but I did not want him to. Why? Simply because I highly doubt that he follows closely what has been going on in Ukraine since several years ago. He says he has read things. When? Today? Two years ago? How much does he know? Does he know what the Ukrainians think about it? Questions, questions… However, it is his right to speak up, and I respect him for that. I wish he did not, but I understand why he did. Also, it it evident that he understands how manipulative the whole situation is, and he is well aware of the power of football, i.e. the springboard-like quality of it for any matter out there. Perhaps this is why I am not so fond of anyone from the German team, for that matter, to mingle in it.

The bottom line is that politics should not have anything to do with people who would like to see their favorite teams play. They have been waiting for it. If for some reason Ukraine does not get to see the championship, it will affect common people, admirers of football, first of all. Frankly, I do not think it is fair.

A side note: I do, however, see some of Lahm’s usual traits in this. His sharp mind and his active involvement as a member of society, his sense of responsibility, and his conviction to speak his mind.


I restrain from discussing politics in this blog because that is not its purpose. However, in light of the current debate, I am going to post this paragraph because it summarizes my point of view.

Also, the former president of the Federal Constitutional Court, Hans-Jürgen Papier, spoke up against the political boycott of the co-host country. A visit to a match at the European Championship in Ukraine should be “an honor to all players and not the political leadership of the country,” said Papier in the interview with Welt […], “the European Championship is not a governmental meeting. Everything else would be a complete misunderstanding of the meaning of such sport events.”

(my translation)

The key word is political.

The source.



  1. I completely agree that there is a responsibility from the football powers that be to get involved. Ukraine is a host country yet it does not adhere to the basic notion of human rights? The treatment of that woman is awful. It’s a very big topic in the UK as well and too right. Everyone here is unhappy about it.

    Everything in life is political and it all essentially links together. Ukraine are hosting the country to promote their country. Therefore they need to take responsibility for the actions. If football can shed the light on human rights then that is an excellent thing in my opinion. Football is trying to combat discrimination and this in a way is a a type of discrimination: one against humanity.

    1. Isabella~

      I appreciate your comment on the matter =) Thanks!

  2. Föhnix · · Reply

    Lahm is a hypocrite, just like the German ruling class. What about F1 in Bahrain? What about human rights violations by the WC2022 host Quatar? What about the hunger strike of dozens of Palestinian unlawful prisoners? No word about all this. Only one single female mafia oligarch has got the PR power to launch a media hype, crazy…

    1. Hi =)

      Thanks for commenting. I do not see, though, why he is a hypocrite. He was asked about a specific issue, he gave his answer. Whether he is aware of other things that you have mentioned, that’s a completely different question.

      (Besides, the question of Palestine is not for Lahm to solve.)

  3. taraspanas · · Reply

    “- Do you like Presley?
    – No!
    – Have you heard him sing?
    – No, but I sang Johnny! ”
    (The old anecdote)

    What right does the Lamb, Merkel, Sarkozy, MEPs say something is not acquainted with the case? This is simply an attempt to pressure on Ukraine, no more. Do criminals (for the moment by the court, prove the opposite – is not a criminal) Timoshenko, we can say sanatorium conditions. How is it spread rot?

    Do not violate the right to individual freedom? That is, Each convict will be releasing? Why waste time on trifles? “Freedom for all those arrested in Ukraine!” Otherwise, the EVRO 2012 will not go! It sounds like everything dull, the communist slogan of the 60s-80s. People not knowing the fact, shoved his nose, creating a extra. PR.

    There, he also said that the awarding of the German national team, in case of victory, if the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych will award medals, he did not shake his hand! Lam – The Fool? A hypocrite, saying that he pointed out!
    Lam knows who gives football medals! It does not know the children and people who are far from football, but very close to politics!
    Users Guide presents the League!

    Even today it is proved that no one beat Timoshenko, beating all rigged Timoshenko and Karpachova – former ombudsman, for which the latter will answer before the law for their lies!

    1. Hi =)

      Thank you for leaving a comment.

      On the issue: he didn’t say that he wouldn’t shake the President’s hand. He said that he would weigh things and think about it. That being said, he has the right to express his opinion. As simple as that.

  4. taraspanas · · Reply

    I apologize for the Lamb. This translator has translated mechanically, and I, when the rules are not observed. In Russian Lahm – Lam.

    1. So, you speak Russian?

      1. taraspanas · · Reply

        I’m Russian ))
        I just live in Ukraine. Am a fan of Bayern Munich for 20 years.

        1. А, ну, тогда замечательно.

          Так вот, отвечая на Ваш комментариий, у Лама, как и у всех нас, есть право высказывать своё мнение, что он, собственно говоря, и сделал. Я не знаю, насколько он осведомлён о ситуации в Украине, но ведь мы все говорим о вещах, о которых не имеем полного представления. Другими словами, Вы можете говорить о чём-то, с чем не очень хорошо знакомы, я могу делать то же самое, и так далее. Мы выражаем свою точку зрения. Поэтому я считаю, что это надо уважать.

          То, что некоторые люди хотят, чтобы УЕФА в это вмешалось, мне не нравится. Я не считаю, что отобрать чемпионат – значит принять меры. С этим я не соглашусь. Однако, то, что человек имеет право поделиться своими взглядами, – это другой вопрос.

      2. taraspanas · · Reply

        Вам не трудно по-русски общаться? Я владею английским достаточно хорошо, просто неудобно допускать ошибки при написании своих мыслей.

        И я не против того, что каждый волен выражать своё мнение, даже в случае, как в анекдоте про Пресли ))
        Тут дело в другом. Интервью Лама, точнее, две строчки, вырванные из него скопировали
        десятки, а может и сотни так называемых информационных украинских сайтов. В стране и так очень нервозная обстановка перед Евро-2012, так как у него много противников. Не все любят футбол и поэтому не хотят понять всю его важность для Украины. Причем, интервью Лама опубликованы под заголовками, типа нмецкие футболисты не хотят ехать на Евро, пока из тюрьмы не выпустят Тимошенко..
        Сегодня ещё прошло сообщение, якобы сборная Испании подумывает над тем, чтобы не ехать на чемпионат! Как Вам такой вариант?

        1. Ну, исходя из моего комментария, нет, не трудно =)

          Вот мы и добрались до сути-то: тут вопрос к журналистам. Какие заголовки они пишут? В каком ключе они подают эту информацию? На них ведь лежит ответственность! Это уже не к Ламу.

          Про Испанию знаю. Подобные бойкоты меня никогда не вдохновляли.

  5. taraspanas · · Reply

    Так по-русски может говорить только русский или хорошо подготовленный шпион ))

    Я вчера, прочитав такую статейку в LJ со ссылкой на на околофутбольный сайт, решил пройтись в поисках исходника по ссылкам. За полтора часа потерянного времени я понял, что круг замкнулся – “новостийники” ссылались друг на друга. Ни одна ссылка не привела к оригиналу. Это обычная практика на Украине и в России. Никто не несёт ответственность за аткие вот новости. Тогда я “вышел” из Google (без этого он даёт ссылки только на русскоязычные ресурсы), набрал Philipp Lahm и третья ссылка после Википедии привела меня к Вам )) А уже у Вас я вышел на оригинал.
    К Ламу никаких претензий нет, дай БГ ему и манншафту успехов на ЕВРО! Буду болеть, как всегда! ))

    1. Ну, хорошо, что нашли то, что искали =)

      1. taraspanas · · Reply

        )) А прогнозы на ЕВРО есть? Что немцы пишут?

        1. Вот этого, к сожалению, нет =)) Вернее, они, наверное, есть, но у меня их нет, т.к. меня это не очень интересует =)

  6. taraspanas · · Reply

    Пауля нового не завели? ;)

  7. […] now we have clarity. It was his reaction to Lahm’s previous statement. (You can read about it here in case you have missed it.) UEFA’s president Michel Platini repelled the demand of […]

  8. […] weeks ago I wrote a post about Lahm’s interview with Spiegel in which he talked about his point of view regarding the […]

  9. […] Lahm for criticizing Platini. I am not going to recount the whole story, which you can read here and here, but start with Rummenigge […]

  10. […] case you’ve missed the previous episodes, the Lahm-Platini Saga is here and here :) ) Share this:DiggRedditStumbleUponTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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