June 10, 2021 4:40:38 pm
UEFA has ordered Ukraine to remove the phrase “Glory to the heroes” from the inside of its new national team shirt ahead of the European Championship for political reasons, after a complaint from Russia.
Russia on Wednesday had complained to UEFA over Ukraine’s kit, which is emblazoned with a map including Crimea and words from a military slogan.
UEFA said the map was not a concern, and neither was the phrase “Glory to Ukraine” on the outside of the shirt.
But it said that the “specific combination of the two slogans is deemed to be clearly political in nature, having historic and militaristic significance,” and that the slogan inside the shirt must therefore be removed.
Ukraine had said the shirt was a symbol of national unity, and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy posted a selfie on Instagram with the jersey this week.
Relations between Moscow and Kyiv deteriorated sharply after the annexation of Crimea and the start of a Russian-backed separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Commenting on the kit controversy, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that sport should not be mixed with politics.
“Sports is not a battlefield, but a place for competition; it is not a political arena but an athletic one. Become heroes of sports, and you will have your glory,” she said.
Ukraine plays its opening Euro 2020 match against the Netherlands on June 13 in Amsterdam. It also faces Austria and North Macedonia in Group C.
Russia takes on Belgium, the world’s top-ranked team, in its opener on home turf in St Petersburg on June 12, before facing Denmark and Finland.
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