UEFA on Thursday called on Ukraine to make changes to the 2020 Euro jersey to remove the “political” slogan that sparked Russian protests. The governing body of European football received the message “Glory to the Heroes”, a statement against the protests against Russia in Ukraine in 2014 on the shirt, which was “clearly political”. Russia welcomed the measure, but the Ukrainian football association said it was in talks with UEFA to reverse its decision. The Ukrainians told AFP that “earlier UEFA had approved the new kit and all its elements, including the slogan.”
On Tuesday, Russia sent a letter of complaint to UEFA over the yellow jersey, with a Ukrainian scheme on the front, including Crimea, which Russia added in 2014.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted two photos on Instagram with his jersey in his hand and said he had “many important symbols that unite the Ukrainian people.”
The presidential press service then released a selfie of Zelensky wearing a jersey.
“The new jersey of the Ukrainian national football team is not like the others,” Zelensky said.
But UEFA said the map should not be removed or changed, as a UN General Assembly resolution “recognizes that the boundaries of the territory are generally explained by the designs”.
UEFA also adopted the slogan “Glory to Ukraine”, “on its own (because it can be considered a generic and non-political phrase of general national significance)”.
The song was used by protesters who ousted Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych seven years ago in Maidan demonstrations.
Since annexing Crimea, Russia has sided with pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. The conflict there has claimed the lives of more than 13,000 people.
Russia has praised UEFA’s decision, and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said “the sport is not a battlefield, but a competitive area”.
“Become a Sports Hero and you will have Glory. Do it that way and not saying that the homeland should be praised by the animals,” Zakharova wrote in the Telegram.
Ukraine will start the campaign at the European Championships on Sunday against the Netherlands in Amsterdam. Drawn in Group C, they will also face Austria and Northern Macedonia.
Russia is tied in Group B along with Belgium, Denmark and Finland. They have their first match against the Belgians on Saturday in St. Petersburg.
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