Dragan Stojkovic, national coach of Serbia, clapped like an oyster when the questions went to Ukraine during Monday’s press conference before the match against Denmark.
Ekstra Bladet would really like to have asked the Serbian national coach if Serbia will mark a support for Ukraine during Tuesday’s friendly match.
But before the question could be completed, Dragan Stojkovic interrupted.
– Only questions about football and tomorrow’s match.
A few minutes later at the press conference, Ukraine was again asked to emphasize that it was very much about tomorrow’s match, but here the Serbian press officer broke in.
– Exclusively sports questions, he answered Ekstra Bladet’s questions.
Serbs’ reluctance to answer questions about the Russian invasion of Ukraine may be due to the general aversion to the West and NATO that bombed the country back in 1999.
In addition, a survey from last year shows that the vast majority of Serbs have a very positive view of Vladimir Putin. Serbia has also not backed the current international sanctions against Russia.
Denmark supports Ukraine
Conversely, the Danish camp would like to mark its support for Ukraine.
– There will be Ukrainian flags on the chests of the players, as there were the other day, and there will be various markings on screens and LED bands. Both to support Ukraine and to support peace in this special situation that the world is in right now, says communications manager at DBU, Jakob Høyer, at a press conference on Monday.
He also says that the Serbian team has been informed about the Danish support.
Ekstra Bladet has heard from a number of the political parties’ culture and sports spokespersons, who all support a Danish marking of support for Ukraine.
They also agree that the match should be played, even though Serbia is predominantly pro-Russian.
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Can we play a match against a country that so openly supports Russia – and how should the national team mark it?
Yes we can. Serbia is – after all – not directly at war. We can mark it by lambing them yellow and blue, says the Liberal Party’s culture spokesman, Jan E. Jørgensen.
Mai Mercado, sports spokesman for the Conservatives, does not understand how a large proportion of Serbs can support Russia’s aggressions, but emphasizes, like Jan E. Jørgensen, that Serbia is not at war with Ukraine and no sanctions have been imposed on them.
– We do not want Danish singles, and that would be the case if we canceled football matches. We believe that sanctions in this war should be coordinated internationally.
The group chairman of the Danish People’s Party, Peter Skaarup, also does not believe that a boycott is the right way to go.
– Denmark must of course play the international match against Serbia. To the extent that the Serbian people support Russia, it is embarrassing for them. However, that does not justify a boycott that will hurt our national team’s important World Cup preparation.