FACT FOCUS: Associated Press video manipulated to make it appear Slovak flags banned at soccer match

Thu, Jun 20, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

FACT FOCUS: Associated Press video manipulated to make it appear Slovak flags banned at soccer match

Manipulated video from an Associated Press report circulated on the eve of the match between Slovakia and Ukraine at this year's European Championship, with the false claim that Slovak flags had been banned from all games because of their similarity to the Russian flag.

"UEFA has banned the Russian flag from being carried to all matches of the Ukrainian national team at Euro 2024 after some of them were hung in the stands in other matches," an AP reporter allegedly says in the video. "Security staff will seize Russian flags from all fans, regardless of the country of the rival. It also became known that the ban will also apply to the flags of Slovakia at the upcoming match with Ukraine. The organizers claim that the Slovak flag is very similar to the Russian one, which can cause provocations against Ukrainians."

No such video exists and the AP has not reported that there is a ban of Slovak flags at the soccer tournament.

Here are the facts.

CLAIM: A video shows an AP report that says Slovak flags will be banned at Euro 2024 games because of how similar they are to the Russian flag.

THE FACTS: The 33-second video was created using fabricated audio combined with an actual AP video about a Tesla shareholder vote.

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In the video, footage from Euro 2024 is shown over what is supposedly a voiceover by AP reporter Tom Krisher. After about 28 seconds, Krisher appears on screen. The voiceover claims that given the flags' similarities, Slovak flags will not be permitted at the tournament.

Both flags have white, blue and red horizontal stripes positioned in the same order. Slovakia's flag also includes the country's coat of arms on its left side.

But the video was fabricated. The AP has not reported that there is any such ban.

"The video circulating on social media is not an AP video and features a false and manipulated clip of an AP staffer," AP spokesperson Nicole Meir wrote in an email. "The AP did not report on a UEFA ban of Slovak flags."

The footage of Krisher was taken from an actual AP video published on June 13 about a Tesla shareholder vote to restore CEO Elon Musk's $44.9 billion pay package that was thrown out by a Delaware judge earlier this year. Krisher covers the auto industry for the AP, Meir confirmed.

After Russian flags were displayed in the stands at other matches, the UEFA said that security staff would try to intercept and remove Russian flags from being displayed at the Munich stadium where Ukraine played Romania on Monday afternoon in its first Euro 2024 match, the AP has reported.

Russian teams were banned by UEFA from international competitions within days of the full military invasion of Ukraine starting in February 2022.

German authorities previously said they only wanted to allow flags of the participating teams to be brought to stadiums and official fan zones broadcasting games on big screens in the 10 host cities.

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This is part of the AP's effort to address widely shared false and misleading information that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.

MELISSA GOLDIN Goldin debunks, analyzes and tracks misinformation for The Associated Press. She is based in New York. twitter mailto "
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