Euro 2020: Russia protests, UEFA orders Ukraine to change the shirt with references to Crimea
UEFA has forced the Ukrainian national football team to change its official jersey, disputed in recent days by Russia for its nationalistic references and to Crimea.
The shirt, which had previously been approved by UEFA, was instead judged “political” following a “more in-depth analysis” by the governing body of European football, which invited Ukraine to withdraw it in view of the Europeans that will start tomorrow.
UEFA has asked to remove only the controversial writing “Glory to our heroes” contained inside the collar, without contesting the presence of the map drawn in front, another detail that had aroused the protests in Moscow. The figure contains the eastern territories controlled by pro-Russian separatists as well as the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014 following a Russian military intervention and a referendum. According to the organization that brings together the European football federations, the map would correspond to the internationally recognized borders of the country.
Even the phrase “Glory to Ukraine” on the back was not considered irregular by UEFA, which however contested its combination with “Glory to our heroes”. Together the two phrases would have “a historical and militaristic meaning” and therefore “of a clearly political nature”.
In recent days, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova had criticized the shirt, comparing the sentences to a Nazi slogan. “Be sporting heroes and you will have glory: it is not with nationalistic slogans that you will honor your homeland”, Zakharova said on Telegram after the UEFA decision.
In Ukraine, the shirt was very popular and sold out in just four days after the presentation, according to the British newspaper Independent. “We believe that the shape of Ukraine will give strength to the players because they will fight for all of Ukraine,” said Andriy Pavelko, head of the Ukrainian football federation, presenting the shirt, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Instagram that the shirt of the national team “knows how to shock” and carries “many important symbols that unite the Ukrainian people”.