Passion for Real Madrid in Ukraine isn't new. The Odessa Fan Club was born in 2002. Its name is a tribute to former coach Mariano García Remón, also known as 'The Odessa Cat' after the game staged between Dynamo Kyiv and Real Madrid in that city in 1973. Remón was named Honorary President of the fan club in 2002, when he travelled to Kiev to take part in a Champions League game.
Serguey Strashniy, President of the Odessa Fan Club, told us about the organization he presides when we met up with him in Kiev.
Why did you name the fan club 'Odessa'?
Anatoly Possun, a fan that has lived in Madrid for twelve years, suggested that Real Madrid fans in Odessa should form a fan club.
When was it founded?
In 2002, coinciding with the Club's Centenary. We were the first official Real Madrid fan club in Eastern Europe.
How many fan clubs are there in former USSR countries?
There are currently three: one in Moscow, one in Moldavia and us. The members of the other two fan clubs visited us when they found out we existed to learn more about what we do. It is special for us to share the great moments we have lived as Madridistas.
Who are your members?
Most of them are Odessa citizens, but others live in Kiev. Most people in Ukraine know we are Madridistas and that Real Madrid inspires us.
What kind of events do you organize?
We aren't a conventional fan club. We opened a football academy that currently has 400 children divided into many different teams and playing in several children's leagues in Odessa. We also have a team for adults that plays in the second professional league of Ukraine.
How do you follow Real Madrid in the distance?
We have seen their games in Moscow and Kiev live. On March 2003 we travelled to Madrid to see the Real Madrid-Racing Santander match, but the game was postponed and we missed it. We have headquarters where we meet to watch the games that are broadcast on Ukrainian television, but we would like to have Spanish satellite television in order to watch every game.