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Fact check: Did Romanian football fans shout Putin slogans?

Uta Steinwehr
June 21, 2024

Two viral videos show Romanian fans chanting either pro- or anti-Putin chants during their EURO 2024 match against Ukraine. DW, which had a reporter present, has determined that the audio tracks for both have been faked.

Opening ceremony on the pitch minutes before the match Romania - Ukraine at EURO 2024 in Munich kicked off
Opening ceremony for the match Romania - Ukraine at EURO 2024Image: Cristian Stefanescu/DW

On Monday, Romania played against Ukraine in Munich at the EURO 2024 football championship, winning its first match of the tournament 3-0. 

After the game, a video went viral on social media, in which Romanian fans in the stadium chant "Putin, Putin" – apparently in support of Russia's president Vladimir Putin

One of the posts on X has been viewed almost two million times. The video spread widely and was shared in different languages, such as Russian, GermanCzech, Chinese, Arabic, and on other platforms like Youtube, Telegram and TikTok

The fans in the stadium were filmed from behind, which made it impossible to identify their lip movements.

But there is another version of the video circulating where the audio is different, like in this X postin Polish. In this version, the fans are not shouting "Putin, Putin", but "Putin – khuylo." This word, roughly translating to "d**khead," is used in Russian and Ukrainian. The anti-Putin chant has been used widely since at least 2014 when Russia annexed the Ukranian peninsula of Crimea. In general, it has not only been used by Ukrainians, but has also been picked up in different countriesas well.

This version of the videowith the "Putin – khuylo" audio has also spread widely, and many people claimed this is the original audio, and that the "Putin, Putin" chants had been manipulated.

So, who is right?

Claim: Two videos show Romanian fans in the stadium chanting either pro-Putin or anti-Putin slogans during their match with Ukraine.

DW fact check: Both audio versions of the video are fake. 

Screenshots of X posts that claim Romanian football fans chanted pro or anti-Putin slogans
Screenshots of X posts that claim Romanian football fans chanted pro or anti-Putin slogans. Both audio files appear to be manipulated.Image: X

DW does not have access to the original video file that could prove which version is correct. But we spoke with two people who were in the stadium and very close to where the viral video was filmed. Both testify not having heard either of the slogans.

One of them is Cristian Stefanescu, a journalist for DW's Romanian service. He was seated in block 307, row 16, seat 14. This is almost at the top of the stadium in Munich and at goal-line level. This means Stefanescu watched the match from the same area from which the viral video was filmed.

Stefanescu is even visible from behind in the viral video (highlighted in the screenshot). He identified himself after he watched the video with the DW fact-check team. 

DW journalist Cristian Stefanescu is visible from behind in the stands in a screenshot of a tweet sharing the manipulated video
In the viral clip, DW journalist Cristian Stefanescu is visible from behind in the stands

The DW journalist seems to have been standing two rows in front and slightly to the right of the person who filmed.DW fact-check analyzed videos and photos that Stefanescu took inside the stadium and was able to cross-check the location by comparing different reference points. 

At the beginning and the end of the viral clip, there is a dark-haired man in a red jersey that looks like Romania's current away kit. It has a white J on the right shoulder which stands for Joma, a sports clothing brand. This man is wearing glasses that are clearly visible from second six to eight in the clip. To his right, there is another dark-haired man in a yellow jersey with a stubble beard who is wearing bracelets or wristbands on both wrists. 

DW fact check identified these two men as well in a video that Stefanescu took from his position. 

Screenshot of viral video and of a video by Cristian Stefanescu with highlighted areas that help identify the same two people in the images
Right: Screenshot taken from the viral video. Left: the same two people in a video screenshot taken by DW journalist Cristian StefanescuImage: X/DW

DW also spoke to an acquaintance of Stefanescu, who was watching the match two seats further to the right. He said he was aware of the video version circulating with the slogan "Putin – khuylo". But as with Stefanescu, he stressed he didn't hear either slogan being chanted. 

Since both witnesses were so close to the position of the person who filmed, it is highly unlikely that they missed the chants, especially because each audio suggests that the whole block was shouting.

DW journalist Cristian Stefanescu with his ticket on the phone 
DW journalist Cristian Stefanescu with his ticket on the phone Image: Uta Steinwehr/DW

Were fans celebrating a goal?

Let's have a further look at the viral video in order to get an idea of what the fans might have  actually been chanting. 

The first hints are the video walls mounted under the stadium's roof. For brief moments, these video walls show the word "GOAL" three times in capital letters. This is also visible on a video posted on Instagram by Spanish sports media outlet Marca.

Admittedly, the quality of the manipulated video is poor and it's difficult to identify the word "GOAL" with certainty.

But an analysis of the sun's and shade's position can help to identify the approximate time of filming, and if it was indeed around the time of a goal.

In the viral video, the sun just touches the goal line close to the corner of the pitch. 

To compare the sun's position, DW looked at a recording of the match provided by German public broadcaster ARD. Romania scored for the first time in the 29th minute. Two minutes after that, the camera points to the area we see in the viral video: the corner flag and a few centimeters of the goal line are lit up by sunlight. The corner flag had been in the shade shortly before. 

Due to rights restrictions, DW cannot show a screenshot of the official match recording. But Stefanescu's photos reveal how fast the shade moved. In the first photo on the left, taken during the opening ceremony minutes before the match kicked off at 3 p.m. local time, the sun was still a few meters left of the goal line. In another photo taken a good hour later, at the beginning of the second half, the shade had moved already a few meters to the right of the goal line.

Composition of three photos at different points of time showing the shade of the stadium roof on the pitch
The composition shows how the sun and the shade moved. Left: photo at 2:52 p.m. during the opening ceremony shortly before kick-off, center: the sun's position in the viral video, right: photo taken at 4:02 p.m. at the kick-off of the second halfImage: DW, Cristian Stefanescu | X | DW, Cristian Stefanescu

This means that the viral video was indeed taken around the time of Romania's first goal. And it reinforces the idea that the "GOAL" animation was seen in the stadium. 

So, it seems unlikely that Romanian fans were actually chanting slogans related to Putin, especially since they must have been celebrating the team's first goal in its first match at a European football championship since 2016.

DW's analysis and the eyewitness reports lead us to the conclusion that the two audio tracks with Putin slogans are not authentic and were manipulated.

Ines Eisele contributed to this report.

Edited by: Thomas Sparrow