A tense tug of war between Moscow-Russia and Ukraine has spread to football, and Russian officials and lawmakers have blamed the Ukrainian national team’s shirt design for this month’s European Championship.
The yellow and blue Ukrainian design features a map of the country, including Crimea, the Black Sea Peninsula, which Russia merged in 2014 following the expulsion of a friendly president to Moscow.
Most of the world does not allow annexation, and international law still recognizes Crimea as Ukrainian territory. Russia also supports separatists in eastern Ukraine, who killed more than 14,000 people in seven years of combat. doing.
Andrey Pavelco, chairman of the Ukrainian Football Association, unveiled a new uniform on Facebook on Sunday, a symbol of a “single, undivided home” that encourages players to “fight for the whole of Ukraine” Praised it as.
Pavelco is a member of the executive committee of UEFA, a European football organization, and has approved the design of the tournament.
“The shirts of the Ukraine national team (and all other teams) of UEFA EURO 2020 have been approved by UEFA in accordance with the applicable equipment rules,” said the Swiss-based organization.
Russia was immediately indignant.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said the design was a “desperate” gesture.
She also opposed the Ukrainian national slogan “Glory to Ukraine, Glory to Heroes!” Written on the uniform. He accused some of them of fighting the Soviet Union alongside the Nazis in World War II.
Several Russian lawmakers also voiced opposition to the design of Ukrainian uniforms.
Russian House of Representatives Dmitry Svischev accused Ukrainian uniforms of being a political gesture intended to bring sports into politics.
“It’s a uniformed conflict setting,” he said. “The sports arena is not for political declaration.”
Another Russian lawmaker and former professional boxer Nikolai Valuev also accused Ukrainian uniforms of “unjustified attempts to politicize sports.”
“They can dream what they want, but Crimea is part of the Russian Federation and is not the subject of debate.”
Both Ukraine and Russia were eligible for a 24-team tournament, but since 2014 the UEFA rules to separate the national teams from the club teams have been in force, so they couldn’t be drawn together. ..
The tournament draw will also prevent Ukraine and Russia from playing in Round 16.
Russia will host seven Euro 2020 games in St. Petersburg. Ukraine is not involved.