UEFA told Ukraine on Thursday it could keep a map showing Crimea on its new national jersey despite Russia’s objections, but had to remove the phrase “Glory to the Heroes” due to connotations military.
Ukraine’s kit, which is set to feature in the European Championship, has sparked rivalries with Moscow as it includes a blank map showing the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014 but remains internationally recognized as part of Ukraine.
A slogan on the back reads “Glory to Ukraine” while inside the shirt is the words: “Glory to the Heroes” – a military greeting in Ukraine.
UEFA said the card was not a concern as it reflected the UN-recognized borders, nor did the phrase “Glory to Ukraine”.
But he ordered the second sentence deleted, given that “the specific combination of the two slogans is considered to be clearly political in nature, with historical and militaristic significance,” according to a UEFA statement.
Ukraine had declared the shirt a symbol of national unity, and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy posted a selfie on Instagram with the shirt this week.
Relations between Moscow and Kiev deteriorated sharply after the annexation of Crimea and the start of a Russian-backed separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Commenting on the controversy over the kit, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that sport should not be mixed with politics.
“Sport is not a battlefield, but a place of competition; it is not a political arena but a sports arena. Become heroes of sport and you will have your glory,” she said.
Ukraine will play their Euro 2020 opener against the Netherlands on June 13 in Amsterdam, and will also face Austria and North Macedonia in Group C.
Russia will face Belgium, the highest-ranked team in the world, in their home opener in St. Petersburg on June 12, before facing Denmark and Finland.