Eurovision controversies: From starting a revolution to forgetting lines

The Eurovision Song Contest is primarily a competition for the best track but has been dogged by controversies since its inception in 1956.

The competition has been caught up in politics, voting issues and boycotts throughout the more than 60 years.

Here is a round-up of the strangest and most contentious moments:

– Winner forgets her lines

Held in Lugano, Switzerland, host country singer Lys Assia won with the song Refrain.

She went on to forget her lines when asked for a repeat performance.

– Norwegian jury changes its vote

In 1963, the UK hosted the contest in London as France did not want to as it had already held it twice in previous years.

The Norwegian jury first gave one result in the wrong order and then was told that their final votes would be fully announced later. They voted for Denmark, who had been in a tight race with Switzerland.

– Portugal’s entry starts a revolution

This year is the 50th anniversary of E Depois Do Adeus, sung by Paulo de Carvalho, which entered Eurovision in Brighton, when Swedish pop group Sweden won.

– Act walks off stage before song finished 

In 1990, Spanish duo Azucar Moreno, made up of Antonia and Encarnacion Salazar, entered with Bandido in Zagreb, then in the former Yugoslavia and now in Croatia.

During the performance, conductor Eduardo Leiva could not hear the Spanish backing tape and the group on stage at the time walked off.

– Israel cancels own act

In 2000, pop act PingPong was selected to sing the Hebrew track Sameach and was backed by the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA).

However, during the contest the group waved Syrian flags on stage amid conflict between the country, Israel and Lebanon.

The IBA was reported at the time saying that PingPong was “a band of crooks who misled us in an act of fraud” and would need to pay their own costs.

In 2017, Russian television station Channel One announced it would not broadcast the contest or take part because its contestant has been barred from Ukraine.

Julia Samoylova was selected, but after it was discovered that she toured in Crimea in 2015 following Russia’s annexation she was not allowed to legally travel to Ukraine.

She later represented her country the following year in Portugal.

The UK’s 2018 entry SuRie was performing her song Storm when the person, wearing a black and red bandana and slogan t-shirt, snatched the microphone from her hands.

She refused the chance to sing again after her performance was disrupted and finished 24th out of 26 countries at the event.

In 2021, Damiano David from Italy’s winning Eurovision band Maneskin denied taking cocaine following suggestions that he was caught on camera taking drugs during the broadcast.

Damiano said: “Thomas (guitarist Thomas Raggi) broke a glass … I don’t use drugs, please guys, do not say that.”

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