Dancing with the Ukrainian flag in front of USSR players: a unique protest at the Olympics in Canada
On July 27, 1976, during a match of the USSR national team at the Olympic Games in Montreal, 20-year-old son of Ukrainian migrants Daniil Migal ran onto the field in a vyshyvanka and danced a gopaka with a blue-and-yellow flag in his hands. It happened in the semifinal match of the tournament against the GDR team, which Valeriy Lobanovskiy's charges lost 1:2.
The episode in Montreal, of course, did not get on the screens of Soviet television, because the USSR did everything to erase the national identity of Ukrainians. However, Migal's act made it into the Canadian press, and later Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recalled it in his speech.
Daniel Migal was born on December 28, 1955 in Thunder Bay, Ontario to a family of Ukrainian immigrants. His father Bogdan was from Rusov village in Ivano-Frankivsk region, studied at the Medical University of Lviv and was a doctor in the "Galicia" division. And was forced to emigrate to Canada to avoid falling under the repression of the Soviet authorities.
Over the ocean, Bohdan Migal married Ukrainian Victoria-Anna Balabukh, who worked as a nurse, but never forgot his homeland. Children learned the Ukrainian language and adopted the national culture. Daniil worked as a journalist for a radio and newspaper in Thunder Bay and for Ontario television.
During the 1976 Olympics, 20-year-old Daniil and his friends from the Union of Ukrainian Youth traveled 1,500 kilometers from Thunder Bay to Montreal to support Ukrainian athletes on the USSR team and make a statement.
"It was hard for me to understand why Ukrainian athletes have to compete under someone else's flag. It was unfair, because it was the blue-yellow one that was supposed to go up in the sky in honor of their victories. And I also realized that the whole world was watching the Olympics and it was a great opportunity to declare Ukraine's independence", - said Daniil later.
On the eve of the semi-final of the soccer tournament between the USSR and the GDR, representatives of the UUY came under the building where the flags of all the participating countries of the Olympic Games were flying. And Andriy Migal's younger brother Daniil Migal climbed the flagpole and tore down the Soviet banner, which was immediately burned as a sign of protest against the repression of Ukrainians in the Union.
And on July 27, when the USSR footballers were losing in the semifinals of the Olympics to representatives of the GDR, Daniil managed to outwit the guards at the stadium, run onto the field in a vyshyvanka and perform a gopak with the Ukrainian flag, shouting: "Freedom for Ukraine!" The guy did not have a clear plan, he just saw an opportunity and took it.
Migal wanted to "dramatize the fate of the Ukrainian people" and support the Ukrainian players, who were in the starting lineup as many as 9 people, including such stars as Blokhin, Buriak and Reshko. And on the coaching bridge sat Lobanovsky and Bazilevich. 50,000 spectators greeted the striker with applause, and the match had to be suspended.
As soon as the police appeared on the field, Daniil hid the Ukrainian flag behind his back, calmly let himself be detained and led outside the arena. Meanwhile, 150 Ukrainians in the stands hung a huge blue-and-yellow flag and, thanks to the letters on their shirts, made up the inscription "Freedom for Ukraine!"
"The main purpose of my action is to demonstrate to the whole world that we, Ukrainians, have our own flag and can have our own state. I wanted our flag to be seen by the whole world," Migal explained his historic run.
The Ukrainian diaspora newspaper Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly told about this extraordinary story.
"Oh, that's interesting, I'm assuming it's a GDR fan. The colors of his flag seem to confirm this, but he's dancing in a Soviet manner. While the crowd greets him with applause, the police intervene, but politely. Yes, sometimes soccer, like other sports, causes enthusiasm, but it is still a pity to have to interrupt the match, but in any case he managed to outplay the attentiveness of the stadium security..." - reacted a commentator to Daniil's exit.
Naturally, in the USSR about the Ukrainian patriot on the field persistently silent and the media, and the players themselves, did not recall this case in any interview. And Migal was detained by Canadian law enforcers for a couple of hours, and then released without any charges. Daniel was taken from the police by Stepan Bandera's son Andrei, who made efforts for such a quick release of his friend.
Andriy worked at the Olympics as an accredited journalist and was also a well-known public figure in Canada, in particular organizing mass actions in defense of political and religious prisoners in Ukraine.
In 2017, Migal finally traveled to Ukraine for the first time. And after the full-scale invasion of Russia, on August 23, 2022, when our country celebrates the Day of the State Flag, the blue-yellow flag, with which Daniel danced gopaka in Montreal, was solemnly raised at the opening of the new season of the Ukrainian soccer championship before the match between Shakhtar and Metalist 1925.
Curiously, among those who hung that flag was Blokhin, who played in the semifinal match of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
And the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on Flag Day remembered Migal in his speech: "This flag was at the Olympics-1976 in Montreal, when during the semifinal match between the USSR and GDR soccer teams on the field ran out a representative of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada Daniil Migal. Wearing an embroidered vyshyvanka and carrying a blue-and-yellow flag, he danced the gopak. He has always dreamed of transferring this flag to Ukraine. Today it finally happened. And this legendary flag will be raised today at the opening of the Ukrainian soccer championship".
Earlier OBOZREVATEL told us that the officials of the USSR took away a million from the best par, and already at the age of 16 Lvivian wrestled in the 1/4th of Wimbledon.