Following Friday’s shock announcement by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) that Romania had been disqualified from competing in the 2016 Eurovision song contest due to unpaid debts worth over $21 million, the singer in question, Ovidiu Anton has spoken out about his shock and frustration
“I am very disappointed,” Anton said in an interview with Radio France International.
“I don’t think that anyone can imagine what I am going through, nor do I wish it on anybody.”
“I have worked for many years to earn my right to represent Romania at Eurovision and, after winning [Selectia Nationala], I was defeated by… I don’t even know whom.
“I can say that I can’t explain how you can make such a decision at this level, how do you eliminate a contestant after letting him compete.
Anton had won his right to represent the country in the Romanian National Selection Contest, known as Selecția Națională. Watch him perform his winning entry below:
The EBU said in a statement on Friday that it holds the Romanian government legally obligated to underwrite the national broadcaster, TVR's debt, which had been mounting as far back as 2007, and that despite numerous attempts to recover the debt, they failed to meet the final deadline on Thursday 21 April.
EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre said at the time “It is regrettable that we are forced to take this action."
"We are disappointed that all our attempts to resolve this matter have received no response from the Romanian government. In recent weeks the EBU has taken note of the Ministry of Finance’s suggestion that TVR may be placed into insolvency proceedings which may in turn lead to a profound restructuring of the broadcaster.
"The EBU is a not-for-profit association which represents 73 Public Service Broadcasters in 56 countries. The continued indebtedness of TVR jeopardizes the financial stability of the EBU itself."
Of course, that’s of little consolation to Anton, who said in his interview with Radio France, that he’s determined to take legal action, though against whom, it is not at this stage clear.
“I don’t know who is to blame, but someone certainly is – and that someone is not me,” said Anton.
“I think that the damages are immeasurable. One cannot put a price on what this does to an artist. The chance to perform your song for 70 broadcasters cannot be given again, not with the moment that you wanted to create. The damages to my image, as well as the moral damages, are enormous.”
“I have to think of the natural, legal steps that I have to make, I will consult with my lawyers and I will follow their advice, because someone is guilty and has to pay.”
“I will never compete for Eurovision again. I have been treated very unfairly, miserably even, as the representative of a country at Eurovision. I can vow that, regardless of whatever happens in the future, my Eurovision game — because it has proven to be a game, not a fight — stops here.”
Eurovision fans have rallied to show their support for the embattled singer, launching an online petition to campaign for the EBU to allow Anton to have his chance to perform.
So far the petition has gained over 2,300 signatures.
The Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast on SBS’s Eurovision Weekend - Friday 13, Saturday 14 and Grand Final Sunday 15 May, 7.30pm on SBS, with LIVE early morning broadcasts from 5am on Wednesday 11, Friday 13 and Sunday 15 May.