Sun, 13 Jun 2021

A day before the start of the European Championships, UEFA has told Ukraine it must remove the patriotic phrase 'Glory to the heroes' because of its political connotations.

European soccer's governing body said on June 10 that while a map on Ukraine's new jersey for the tournament was not an issue, the combination of two phrases, 'Glory to Ukraine' and 'Glory to the heroes' was 'clearly political in nature.'

The new design was unveiled on June 7 by the president of the Football Federation of Ukraine, Andriy Pavelko, who said that 'all Ukraine, from Sevastopol and Simferopol to Kyiv, from Donetsk and Luhansk to Uzhhorod will support them in every match.'

Russia complained to UEFA the next day over the issue, saying it wanted an 'explanation' over the why the jerseys, seen in Moscow as a 'political provocation,' were approved.

Specifically, Moscow was upset over the slogans and the map, which includes the Crimean Peninsula, which is legally part of Ukraine but was seized by Russia in 2014.

After the Kremlin took Crimea by force, Russia tried to legitimize its actions with a referendum widely derided as a sham.

The vote was conducted in a heavily militarized environment and was illegal under the Ukrainian Constitution. The result has never been recognized by most of the international community.

The 'specific combination of the two slogans is deemed to be clearly political in nature, having historic and militaristic significance,' so the slogan 'must therefore be removed,' UEFA said.

'Glory to the heroes!'

AFP reported that Ukraine's soccer association was 'in talks' with UEFA to keep the slogans on the jerseys.

Donetsk and Luhansk are eastern cities held by Kremlin-backed separatist forces that seized them in 2014, at the beginning of a war that has killed more than 13,000 people. Sevastopol and Simferopol are in Crimea, which Russia occupied in March of the same year.

The jerseys are for the Euro 2020 championship, which was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and will be played from June 11 to July 11 in 11 cities including St. Petersburg, Russia, where Ukraine may play if it advances to the quarterfinals.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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