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The European Football Association (UEFA) called on Ukraine on Thursday to change the jersey of its national team competing in the 2020 UEFA European Championship to remove the “political” logo that has sparked a backlash from Russia.
Wifa said the message “Glory to our heroes,” a chant that was popular during the 2014 anti-Russian protests and appeared inside a T-shirt, “is clearly political in nature.”
The Russian Football Federation announced on Tuesday that it wrote a letter to Wifa condemning the new jersey of the Ukrainian national team, which depicts a map of Ukraine, including Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, as well as the eastern regions controlled by trade unions. Russian separatists.
Russian media, referring to the local football federation, stated that in this letter addressed to the continental federation, “we draw attention to the use of slogans with a political background on the jersey of the national team of Ukraine, which is contrary to the basic principles of UEFA. rules concerning sports equipment ”.
Along with a Russian message of protest addressed to the continental union, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed a new jersey for the national team, which, according to his Instagram post, bears “important symbols”.
In response to the Russians, Zelenskiy wrote: “The new Ukrainian football kit is truly unmatched. She can be shocking. It has many important symbols that unite Ukrainians. “
But the EU said the map would not need to be changed because the UN General Assembly resolution “recognizes territorial boundaries, as is usually indicated in the design.”
The Union also approved the slogan “Glory to Ukraine”, since “it itself can be considered a general, non-political phrase of national importance.”
In response to Wifa’s decision, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “Sport is not a battlefield, but a field for competition. Be a sports champion and you will gain glory. Do it this way, and not with nationalist slogans that the Motherland should be glorified. “
Relations between Russia and Ukraine have been strained since pro-Western forces came to power in Kiev in 2014, followed by the annexation of Crimea by Moscow and a war between Kiev’s forces and pro-Russian separatists in the east that killed more than 13,000 people.
Since the beginning of the year, this conflict with the separatists has resumed, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people, and Kiev accused Russia of seeking to “destroy” the Ukrainian state. Moscow, for its part, stressed that its maneuvers in the region “do not threaten anyone”, condemning the Ukrainian “provocations.”
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