Indulgence for a patriot. Why Zozulya shouldn’t be on national team

Indulgence for a patriot. Why Zozulya shouldn’t be on national team

UCMC publishes the translation of an article by Sport Arena.

Previously UCMC has explained the issue that Zozulya had with his team.

How many times have you heard the phrase “sport is beyond politics”? I bet a few. Ukrainian football players do not get tired repeating this. They disregard the issues of transfers to Russia, business owners’ and clubs’ position on events in Ukraine. They put on their shoes, wear a T-shirt and go out into the field for the game they were paid for. They are apolitical, have their own opinion and cannot / do not want to talk about anything but football.

While the entire country is at war and facing continuing crisis, they efface themselves from reality as if they were not members of a society that every day is going through upheaval and loss. This applies to everyone, not just football players. Sometimes they start talking, mostly about crisis in Ukrainian football as a consequence of the national crisis. And yes, there is always a talk about money (cannot miss out that). Like, “our wages have decreased, again, as the result of the crisis in Ukraine”. In any other case “sport is beyond politics.” Yes, we remember that.

How noble of them, isn’t it? They are the bright spots in the general black background, the only ones who did not succumbed to the dirty, nasty politics. They are just doing their job, without redundant many questions and comments. Oh, these true professionals, heh.

But that is not the case. The players are as much of members of society, as drivers, teachers, journalists and politicians. Someone has less impact on life of the country, someone has more. Someone is more capable of doing this than most of us. This is due to the scope of activities, publicity, reputation in the community. Football is a public-sector activity. It is the players, coaches, functionaries who can affect public opinion, educate patriotism, show an example. Of course, they are not obliged to do so. Their job is simple: just play football.

If a football-related man is publicly expressing his opinion about the events in Ukraine, he is automatically raised to the rank of a patriot. He becomes loved and respected. If he directly influences the developments in Ukraine (like volunteers, for example), he automatically rises to the rank of a hero. It is not just respect and love now, he has become the idol for millions. He is the uncontested authority. Why would you not respect him?

One only needs to have an opinion, and express it in public. That is enough. Among the gray mass of people who just kick a ball there are not that many with an opinion. Therefore, it is easy to stand out. You can even clearly define several commandments to that end:

  1. a) do not play football in Russia and always say that you will never go there;
  2. b) call a spade a spade: there is war in Ukraine, war with Russia;
  3. c) adore Ukrainian military in public;
  4. d) help (preferably publicly) Ukrainian army.

Sorry for the cynicism, but that’s how it is.


It’s really hard to remember when Roman Zozulya scored goals or went on the field, yet people do not cease to admire him. He does not only speak, but act. Part of the money he earns on the field he gives to charity and for the needs of Ukrainian army. Help children’s team to go for a tournament? No problem. Forgive his club all debts? No questions. No one knows the limit of Zozulya’s generosity. Roman is really a decent person, he does not just kick a ball, he is a patriot. There is no doubt about this.

But stop there for a moment. Are there a lot of people who can immediately and without the help of Google answer the question: when was the last time Zozulya went to the field and, in fact, scored a goal? Let’s be honest, there are few. Since August Zozulya played 150 minutes (in 6 matches) and haven’t scored a single goal. But he has been summoned to the national team for a very important game against Croatia. Zozulya is a patriot. But wait, are players summoned to the national team for having a high level of patriotism? Isn’t it for the scored goals, assists and physical fitness?

No matter if Zozulya plays with Croats or not. He can be replaced by any forward from the Ukrainian championship. We can choose any forward from Ukrainian Premier League that has at least some game-time, and he will have a head start over Zozulya. It is as obvious as the fact that Zozulya is a volunteer.

We began to confuse right with wrong, professional with patriotic. Imagine that you haven’t been doing your job for a few months, but your boss continues to pay you. For what? You’re a patriot, and a good fellow. That’s absurd.

Moreover, this is not the first situation like this. This spring Zozulya hit the arbitrator after the match with Zorya. Then he was punished by disqualification for six months. Yet he did not actually served the punishment for what he did. He “missed” three summer months (though he participated in the European Championships), and then the disqualification was reduced so that he could move to Betis.

It may sound awful, but we don’t need patriots like that. Oh, you hit the arbitrator? No worries, you’re helping the army. You do not play in the club because of miscalculations of your agent and personal reasons (namely the position of Rayo fans)? Poor you, you’ll be on the national team whatsoever.

We cannot respect those who say that “sport is beyond politics”. Only people with an opinion deserve respect. Also, those who do not remain aloof and help our state. And most of all respect is deserved by professionals who never put their personal interests above the interests of the majority (the country).

It looks like there are no questions to Zozulya: Andriy Shevchenko summons him, so Roman goes to the team. But does the player have no thoughts and, inner patriotism? This invitation to the team is a sort of precedent that raises many questions. Roman can resolve it simply by refusing the invitation.

Patriotism is not only about financial support, patriotism is a desire to help, not hurt. Today, Roman is harmful, he is showing a bad example of overindulgence for a patriot.

Is this the patriotism we need?