Defender Artem Fedetskyi has denied claims there were beers in the Ukraine dressing room after their 2-0 Euro 2016 loss to Germany in Group C on Sunday.
The veteran Dnipro player bristled at those who questioned the squad’s professionalism, suggesting the reports are an attempt to unsettle the team ahead of their match against Northern Ireland in Lyon on Thursday.
“I was in the changing room, please believe me, there was nothing like that,” he said.
“We are a normal team, we have no players who drink beer. I think the information is wrong. I’m not really interested in it, because I know my players, I know my team-mates and nothing happened like that.
“Maybe someone wants to provoke us. But please believe me, we are a very disciplined team and we behave in a very civilised way, not only in Ukraine but also in other countries.”
Fedetskyi’s pride in his compatriots extends not just to his team-mates, but also the fans following Ukraine in France, with the 31-year-old hailing supporters who have made the journey for avoiding trouble during the instances of hooliganism that have marred the early stages of the European Championship.
“I saw a video of an English propagandist who tried by any means possible to provoke our fans,” he said.
“I am very proud of our fans for not responding to those provocations. It shows we are a civilised country. What happens in other places, it’s not the majority of people. France has done everything possible for games to be organised in a civilised way.”
Head coach Mikhail Fomenko believes it is up to the blameless majority to shame violent fans into acting peacefully.
“I don’t think they’re kids, they’re adults,” he said.
“I [should] have nothing to tell them. If they behave incorrectly the majority has to say to the minority how they should behave.”
Fomenko also explained his decision to only use teenage hotshot Oleksandr Zinchenko off the bench in the loss to Germany.
“You have to bear in mind that Zinchenko lacks experience,” he said.
“He had an injury for quite a while. And the lack of practice had a huge impact on his performance. To be fully [fit] he has to play more often and have an iron psychology.”
The Ukraine coach expects to have a fully fit squad to choose from in what appears to be a must-win game at Stade de Lyon for two sides that both lost their tournament openers.
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