UEFA on Thursday demanded that Ukraine make changes to their jersey for Euro 2020 to take away a “political” slogan that sparked protests from Russia. European football’s governing body said the message “Glory to the Heroes”, a rallying cry all over the 2014 anti-Russia protests in Ukraine that is featured within the shirt, was once “clearly political in nature”. Russia welcomed the move, but the Ukrainian football organization said it was once in talks with UEFA to reverse its decision. The Ukrainians stressed to AFP that “earlier UEFA had approved the new kit and each element of it, including the slogan.”
On Tuesday, Russia had sent a letter of complaint to UEFA over the yellow jersey which on the front also features the report of Ukraine including Crimea, which was once annexed by Russia in 2014.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted two photographs on Instagram of himself holding the jersey and said it bore “many important symbols that unify the Ukrainian people”.
The presidential press service then released a selfie Zelensky took of himself wearing the jersey.
“The Ukrainian national football team’s new jersey is actually not like the others,” Zelensky said.
But UEFA said the map would not wish to be removed or changed because a United Nations General Meeting Resolution “recognises the territorial borders as broadly depicted by the design”.
The slogan “Glory to Ukraine” was once also approved by UEFA as “by itself (it) is also regarded as as a generic and non-political phrase of general national significance”.
That chant was once also used by protesters who ousted a Kremlin-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych, all over the Maidan demonstrations seven years ago.
Since annexing Crimea, Russia has backed pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. The ongoing clash there has claimed the lives of more than 13,000 people.
Russia hailed UEFA’s decision, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova saying “sport isn’t a battlefield, relatively this can be a field for competition”.
“Turn into sporting heroes and you are going to have glory. Do it that way and not with nationalist slogans saying the motherland will have to be glorified,” Zakharova wrote on Telegram.
Ukraine begin their crusade at the European Championship on Sunday against the Netherlands in Amsterdam. Drawn in Group C, they also face Austria and North Macedonia.
Russia have been drawn in Group B alongside Belgium, Denmark and Finland. Their first match is against the Belgians in Saint Petersburg on Saturday.
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