17 | SEP 2019
23 MAR | 2014
SC Tavriya Simferopol, Simferopol, Ukraine
In Crimea, tension between Ukrainian and Pro-Russian can be seen in the Tavriya Stadium
A kid runs a bike in a deserted Tavriya Simferopol stadium, in Crimea. [Riccardo Romani]
Tavriya Simferopol have been left in a limbo as the conflict between Ukraine and Russia escalates. Riccardo Romani visits their now abandoned ground.

hey say you will never change the team of your dreams. The love for the jersey is written in your DNA. In this remote peninsula in front of the Black Sea, that love has been put under a great deal of stress. You are Ukrainian one day and you hope to become the next Shevechenko; you go to sleep the same night and you need to get used to Arshavin’s picture. Some politician once said that playing with geography messes up history. What about football? With the Russian army rolling into Crimea in recent weeks and the peninsula swallowed up by Russia, Tavriya Semferopol Football Club is [...]

Journalist, writer, producer and director. Has been following stories worldwide for over 20 years. His reportages include chronicles from Somalia, Iraq, Mongolia, Haiti and Afghanistan. Works for Sky Tg24 and has written and directed The Election Game and Coca Nostra. In 2007 he has produced The Possibility of Hope with Alfonso Cuarón. His first novel is Le cose brutte non esistono.


[...] facing now a brutal concern: which league will the team play in?

The Tavriya Simferopol Stadium is now abandoned. The team is halfway through the Ukrainian season (bottom of the table), and on Saturday played an away game at Chernomorets Odessa. But with other sides now unable to visit the club for home games and the club's oligarch backer under arrest in Vienna, Dmytro Firtash, it is unclear just how tenable it is for the team to finish the season,

The plane that the team used to get to games has been grounded, which meant that for the match against Dynamo Kiev last weekend they had to take a 13-hour train trip, and travelled to Odessa on a long, bumpy bus ride.

So, now what? Will Tavriya become a metheor into the vast Russian football scene?

Will they have the chance to reach at least the Champions League Preliminary (beaten by Sion in 1992)? Will they dream to face teams like Bayer Leverkusen (2010) hoping for a spot in the Europa League?

Will Tavriya instead vanish?

Hard to say.

Among the many pro-Russian fans of the team there is great excitement at the prospect of moving to the Russian league, but among the hardcore "ultra" fan groups, who were mainly Ukrainian nationalists, there is dismay.

A young kid is riding his bike into the track close to the deserted Tavriya stadium pitch.

As everybody else he is waiting to know what the fate is unfolding. There is no sight of a football anywhere near. [Ø]

Riccardo Romani

Written from Simferopol, Crimea.
All rights reserved MUNDBØL, 2014