Eurovision isn’t just about glitz and ridiculous costumes – it’s had its fair share of scandals and political wrangling over the years
The live final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest is just hours away and is expected to be watched by millions around the world.
However, behind the ridiculous songs and ridiculous costumes, there’s a dark side to the world-renowned competition – perhaps unsurprising given the political tensions that often lurk beneath events.
In recent years, the pageant has been embroiled in rows over anti-protest political songs, allegations of drug use and accusations of cheating, to name a few. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the scandals that have plagued Eurovision in recent years.
In 2019, Ukraine pulled out of Eurovision after their selection process got embroiled in a political row over their performance in Russia.
Pop singer Maruv had won the public vote but decided to withdraw from the contest, saying she refused to be a “political tool”.
The Mirror reported that the singer, 31, said she had been asked to sign a contract stipulating that she would not perform concerts in Russia before the competition.
Maruv, real name Anna Korsun, said she was ready to accept the condition, but claimed other clauses would have made her a propaganda “tool”.
She said in a statement: “I am a musician, rather than a tool in the political scene.”
After Maruv withdrew from the contest, the second and third in the contest were both asked to step in – but both refused.
Break the rules
Belarus was banned from Eurovision last year for choosing to submit anti-protest political songs.
The country has cracked down on anti-government protests against President Alexander Lukashenko.
The Daily Star reports that in 2021, Belarus repeatedly attempted to submit “anti-dissent” songs, selected by Belarusian public service broadcaster BTRC.
Dubbed I Will Teach You, the track included the lines “I’ll teach you how to walk a string / You’ll be happy with anything…I’ll teach you how to toe the line”, which was deemed to have included “subliminal political undertones and meanings”.
A second song would also have been too political and Belarus was later kicked out of the competition after refusing to rewrite the song or find an alternative entry.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Last year, concerns surfaced that taxpayers’ money had been used to try to manipulate betting odds in favor of Je Me Casse, sung by Destiny Chukunyere from Malta.
The Mirror reported in 2021 that Minister Carmelo Abela had ordered a spending audit after the board of Maltese broadcaster PBS, which is responsible for the entry, raised fears of “financial mismanagement”.
Two sources said Malta had distributed 650,000 euros (£550,000) between the Malta Tourism Authority and PBS.
Sources said a PBS insider admitted part of the budget was spent funding foreign nationals placing bets on Destiny, The Times of Malta reported.
A Eurovision betting expert said at the time: “It is claimed that Malta is investing money in Betfair to keep Destiny as favourites.
“They know it creates positive PR and ensures viewers pay more attention.”
Malta finished in 7th place with 255 points.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Metal rock band Måneskin were crowned Eurovision champions last year, beating France’s Barbara Pravi and Switzerland’s Gjon’s Tears thanks to public votes.
Their moment of triumph was somewhat overshadowed, however, when Damiano was falsely accused of taking illegal drugs during the live finale by viewers, who spotted him ducking his head behind a bucket of drinks.
The group quickly took to their official Instagram account to deny that Damiano had used drugs, writing, “We are truly AGAINST drugs and we have never used cocaine. We are ready to take [tested]because we have nothing to hide.”
True to their word, Damiano later passed his drug test, with Eurovision organizers saying in a statement: “No drug use took place in the Green Room and we consider the matter closed. .
“We are alarmed that inaccurate speculation leading to fake news has overshadowed the spirit and outcome of the event and unfairly affected the group.”