An old saying warns us to keep our friends close, and our enemies closer… but perhaps it’s just easier to snub them at Europe’s favourite music competition?!
Show business is full of famous feuds… Joan Crawford and Bette Davis… Lindsey Lohan and Hilary Duff… Taylor Swift and whoever she was dating last… so it’s little surprise that Eurovision has seen similar cat fights both behind the scenes and on stage over the years.
Which countries have famously had it in for each other at the contest? Who still holds a grudge? Who likes to make their scandals public and who is sneaky and shady? Let’s have a look… warning… drama ahead!! 😉
AUSTRIA AND SPAIN
In 1969, Eurovision was hosted in Spain for the first time ever – but Austria refused to attend festivities in Madrid. At the time, Spain was under the rule of General Franco and Austria boycotted the contest as they deemed it was being hosted in a dictatorship. This being said, Spain’s victory the year before was by only a single point, and Austria awarded “La La La” 2 points… so yeah… strange time to have a change of heart! Austria didn’t return to Eurovision until 1971, as it also decided to miss the following edition (as did many countries) over the 4 way tie that saw Spain, the UK, France and the Netherlands all declared joint winners.
GEORGIA AND RUSSIA
Russia and Georgia have often had a tense political relationship, but in 2009 it spilled over on to the Eurovision stage. Georgia originally planned to boycott the contest in Moscow, but following a victory in Junior Eurovision and 12 points from Russia, they decided to take part. Following a national selection, Stefane & 3G with “We Don’t Wanna Put In” was chosen, but the EBU ruled was a thinly veiled attack on President Putin and therefore too political to take part. Georgia refuted claims the song was political and refused to change it, meaning they were forced to withdraw a second time. Sometime later, the band admitted that the song was just intended to embarrass Putin in Moscow… oops…
ISRAEL AND THE NETHERLANDS
Eurovision is a great place to meet new people and make life ling friends, right? It can be… unless you’re Douwe Bob and Hovi Star. These singers seemed to take an instant dislike to each other after meeting at Eurovision in Concert – which is fine, you won’t like everyone you meet – except it didn’t stop there! The two reputedly continued to make remarks about each other throughout their time in Stockholm, with Hovi even telling a Dutch speaking news crew on the Red Carpet “Don’t start a fight with me, I’ll kick your f***ing ass!” when asked about Douwe… yikes!
CYPRUS AND FINLAND
Not two countries you’d immediately think of as having a lot to do with each other, but this is where it gets interesting! Since the introduction of the semi finals in 2004, Cyprus and Finland have NEVER appeared at a Eurovision final together. The last time they both took part in a final was in 2002, when Cyprus finished 6th and Finland 20th. Is it just a coincidence only one of them can qualify for a final? Are they deliberately avoiding one another? Could it be Finland wrote the following song ABOUT Cyprus!? 😉
GREECE AND TURKEY
Another pair of countries who struggle to get along outside the contest, Greece and Turkey’s Eurovision feud started when Turkey debuted at the contest in 1975. This move promptly caused Greece to withdraw from the show that year in protest over the Turkish invasion of Cyprus the year before. Even Greece’s return the following year was not without controversy. Their 1976 entry “Panagia Mou, Panagia Mou” was about the war in Cyprus, something that didn’t go unnoticed by Turkey. This time Turkey withdrew in protest – and even censored the Greek entry when they televised the show!
RUSSIA AND UKRAINE
Not content to be on this list once, Russia features again with the scandal that defined Eurovision 2017 – Russian singer Yuliya Samoilova being banned from even entering the host country following her visit to Crimea. Ukraine dug in its heels to defend its national laws, Russia outright refused to change the singer and the EBU was unable to broker a compromise between them, resulting in Russia flouncing away from Eurovision – even the best soap opera writers couldn’t have made this scenario up!
ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN
The epitome of Eurovision feuding, Armenia and Azerbaijan have had several scuffles at Eurovision. These range from fans booing in the arenas, accusations of the Azeri government interrogating fans for voting for Armenia, prominently displaying pictures of a monument that both sides claim is in their country… that’s without mentioning Iveta Mukuchyan brandishing a Nagorno-Karabakh flag in Stockholm and the fact Armenia withdrew from the 2012 contest as it was being hosted in Baku. For 2 countries still engaged in a war that’s lasted almost 30 years, deep seated mistrust and taking pot shots at each other isn’t perhaps surprising… but it’s a shame it’s spilled over into what is supposed to be a celebration of music and unity too.
SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO
The Serbian-Montenegrin national selection for 2005 was marred with accusations of favouritism, with Serbian judges voting only for the Serbian acts in the selection and Montenegrin judges doing the same. Despite the controversy, the band No Name went to Kyiv with “Zauvijek Moja”, finishing 7th. In 2006, the exact same thing happened – except this time the audience turned on No Name and booed them off stage when they were named winners. The public broadcasting union rejected the result and suggested another final be held, but as the two broadcasters couldn’t agree, Serbia and Montenegro officially withdrew from the 2006 contest. Some even argue this event helped swing the Montenegrin Independence referendum the following year! Little wonder they entered as separate states after that!
UNITED KINGDOM AND YUGOSLAVIA
HUH? you’ve all just gone! Well, here’s the story behind this unlikely grudge. In 1988, Julie Forsyth, daughter of entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth wrote the song “Go”, which was sung by Scott Fitzgerald for the UK in Dublin. As voting was drawing to a close, the UK were top of the scoreboard, with a 5 point lead over a then relatively unknown Celine Dion. Yugoslavia were the last country to give their points and they awarded Switzerland 6 – and the UK nothing. “Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi” went on to win the night by a single point, leaving many stunned – including Bruce, who still ranted about the results from Yugoslavia years later! Whatever happened to forgive and forget?!
What do you think? Have we missed any countries from our list of Eurovision feuds?
Let us know!
Author: James Scanlan
Source: Eurovision Ireland