The European football governing body UEFA told Ukraine on Thursday that it could hold a card showing Crimea on its new national jersey despite objections from Russia, but must remove the phrase “Honor for the heroes”
Ukraine’s suit, which is part of the European Championships, has aroused rivalry with Moscow because it includes an overview map showing the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014 but is still internationally recognized as part of Ukraine.
A slogan on the back reads “Honor to Ukraine”, while inside the shirt are the words: “Honor to the heroes” – a military greeting in Ukraine. Read more
UEFA said the card was not an issue as it reflected UN-recognized borders, nor the phrase “Honor to Ukraine”.
But it ordered the removal of the second sentence given that “the specific combination of the two slogans is considered to be clearly political and have historical and militaristic significance”, a UEFA statement said.
Ukraine had said the jersey was a symbol of national unity, and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy posted a selfie on Instagram with the jersey this week.
Nevertheless, the Ukrainian news website Vesti.ua quoted the team on Thursday that they were likely to comply with UEFA’s requirements.
“Most likely, the uniform will be changed,” spokesman Mykola Vasilkov was quoted as saying.
Relations between Moscow and Kiev deteriorated sharply following the annexation of Crimea and the start of a Russian-backed separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Commenting on the controversy, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that sport should not be confused with politics.
“Sport is not a battlefield, but a place of competition; it is not a political arena, but an athletic one. Become heroes in sports and you will get your honor,” she said.
Ukraine will play their initial Euro 2020 match against the Netherlands on 13 June in Amsterdam and will also face Austria and Northern Macedonia in Group C.
Russia meets Belgium, the world’s top-ranked team, in their opening at home in Skt. Petersburg on June 12, before meeting Denmark and Finland.
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