Ukraine sparked outrage in Moscow on Sunday when its football federation unveiled the Euro 2020 kits that include Crimea attached to Russia and popular nationalist slogans. Delayed due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, Euro 2020 will be played from June 11 to July 11 across 11 Petersburg cities. Russia’s second city will host seven games, including one of the quarterfinals. In a statement on Facebook, Andriy Pavel, president of the Ukrainian Football Federation, said that Ukrainian players will wear “special uniforms” and put pictures of jerseys in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag.
The football kits feature Russian-held Crimean and separatist-controlled areas around Ukraine between the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, as well as “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Heroes!”
“We believe that the silhouette of Ukraine will give strength to the players because they will fight for the whole of Ukraine,” Pavelko said.
The slogan “Glory to Ukraine” is a patriotic song that became a rallying cry for protesters who ousted a Kremlin-led leader Viktor Yanukovych during the popular uprising in 2014.
Moscow declared the uprising illegal and created a crisis in relations between the two countries. Russia annexed Crimea and sided with Russian-speaking insurgents in eastern Ukraine. The conflict has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014.
The call for “Glory to Ukraine” and the response to “Glory to the Heroes” are linked to Ukraine’s struggle for independence a decade ago.
The slogans have received criticism from Moscow for fighting and collaborating with Nazi nationalist groups during World War II.
‘The illusion of the impossible’
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has mocked the football kits, saying the Ukrainian football team is “holding Ukrainian territory attached to Russian Crimea.”
The design, he said, brings me the “trompe l’oeil” art technique that deceives the eye and creates the “excitement of the impossible”.
Zakharova also said that the organizers and fans of Euro 2020 should “know” that the Ukrainian rally “imitates” the evil Nazi slogan.
“This Nazi battle cry during the war was used by regular and irregular nationalist armed units in Ukraine,” Zakharova said in the Telegram messaging app.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking to state news agency TASS, did not comment and referred all questions to the UEFA football governing body.
Several Russian parliamentarians have accused Ukraine of politicizing football.
“This is completely inappropriate,” Kremlin-backed MP Dmitry Svishchyov told RT-sponsored RT, formerly known as Russia Today, asking UEFA to react.
“Leave our players with shirts that show the contours of the Russian Empire that includes Poland, Ukraine and Finland.”
Former Secretary General of the Russian Football Union Anatoly Vorobyov has said that the governing body of European football could create obstacles if Russia makes a formal protest.
Speaking to RT, the Ukrainians have designed the kits under the influence of “magic mushrooms”.
In 2018, former Croatian international Ognjen Vukojevic was expelled from the World Cup semi-final delegation after the release of a pro-Ukraine political clash.
After the victory in the quarter-finals of the host Nation Russia, Vukojevic posted an Instagram video featuring him and Croatian defender Domagoj Vida, “Glory to Ukraine!”
Topics mentioned in this article
Be Updated with all the Latest Sports News