Ukraine has been told to remove a “political slogan” from its Euro 2020 jersey by UEFA after Russia protested.
The shirt, containing a map showing Russian-annexed Crimea as part of Ukraine also included the phrase “Glory to the heroes”. European football’s governing body had previously approved the kit. However, they now say the combination of the map and wording inside the shirt clearly has “historic and militaristic significance”. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and considers it a part of its territory, something rejected internationally. The head of the Ukrainian Football Association (UAF), Andriy Pavelko, displayed the kit in a video on his Facebook page last Sunday, with the European Championship due to begin on Friday. The front of the yellow and the away blue shirts show Ukraine’s border in white, including Crimea and the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have been partially seized by pro-Russian separatists. A slogan on the back reads “Glory to Ukraine!” and another one – “Glory to heroes!” – is stitched on the inside of the shirt collar. The slogans are now used as official military greetings in Ukraine, and were a rallying cry by protesters who forced out pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. The motto’s origins are rooted in Ukraine’s decades-long anti-Soviet insurgency. “We believe that Ukraine’s silhouette will give strength to the players because they will fight for all of Ukraine,” Mr Pavelko said. In an Instagram post (in Ukrainian), Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote: “The Ukrainian national football team’s new jersey is in fact not like the others. “It knows how to shock. It bears many important symbols that unify the Ukrainian people.” Head coach Andriy Shevchenko had said he did not care what the reaction from Russia was, while the US embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, tweeted “love the new look”, with a photo of the new kit. But Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticised the kits and compared the slogan to a Nazi rallying cry. And Russian MP Dmitry Svishchev had called the shirt “totally inappropriate” and urged UEFA to take action.