June 15, 2021

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Euro football: the jersey of the discord between Russia and Ukraine

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The decision fell this Thursday, June 10. “After a more in-depth analysis”, the mention the reference “Glory to our heroes” appearing “Inside the collar” of the Ukrainian tunic is “Clearly political in nature” and “Must therefore be withdrawn (…) in view of UEFA’s competitive matches”, said a spokesperson for the instance.

Moscow, which raged against Ukrainian equipment since Monday, immediately reacted by addressing Ukraine: “Be sports heroes and you will have the glory, it is thus and not with nationalist slogans that you will honor the motherland”Russian diplomacy spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Telegram.

→ READ Euro 2021: what you need to know about the regulations of the European Football Championship

“Sport is not a battlefield, but of competition, it is not a political arena”, she added.

The Ukrainian football federation has for its part indicated “To conduct negotiations in order to keep this slogan on the shirt, since UEFA had previously approved the kit and all its elements, including the phrase ‘Glory to the heroes'”.

Reference to the Maidan revolution

In detail, UEFA is far from complying with all Russian requests: it validates, for example, the map of Ukraine appearing on the jersey and including Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, as well as the territories of the United Kingdom. ‘Is controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

“Considering that the resolution 68/262 of the General Assembly of the United Nations (…) recognizes the territorial borders as represented in this drawing, UEFA does not require any modification of this element”, said the institution of European football.

The organization also rejected the Russian protest against the slogan “Glory to Ukraine” on the front of the jersey, which “Can be considered as a generic and apolitical sentence”, as long as we analyze it in isolation.

→ PODCAST “The other side of the story”, episode 6: Return to Ukraine, five years after the “Maidan revolution”

But the problem is its ” combination “ with the slogan “Glory to our heroes” added more recently inside the yellow and blue tunic, and which had “Not taken into account” when UEFA approved Ukrainian equipment in December 2020, recognizes the European football body.

Now the double formula “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes ”, taken from a patriotic song, became a rallying cry during Maidan’s pro-Western popular uprising in 2014, which ousted a Kremlin-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.

Potential reunion in quarters

Moscow also associates these slogans with nationalist groups of the Second World War which fought the Soviets, and the Russian Football Federation had made these arguments Tuesday in a letter to UEFA.

“This specific combination of the two slogans is considered to be clearly political in nature, having historical and militarist significance”, develops UEFA by ordering the removal of the only mention “Glory to the heroes”.

On Tuesday, June 8, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sported the new tunic on Instagram after Russian criticism: “The new jersey of the Ukrainian football team is indeed not like the others. He can shock. It has several important symbols that unite Ukrainians ”, pleaded the Head of State.

Ukraine are in Group C and will start their competition on Sunday against the Netherlands, before facing North Macedonia and then Austria. Russia are in Group B, with Belgium, which they face on Saturday, Finland and Denmark.

Ukraine and Russia cannot face each other before the quarter-finals of the Euro. Tensions between the two countries have been recurring since the coming to power of pro-Westerners in Kiev and the annexation of Crimea by Moscow in 2014, fueled by clashes in eastern Ukraine between government forces and the pro-Russian separatists.

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