Ukraine's Soccer Uniform Ticks Off Russia

Shirt unveiled ahead of Euro 2020 includes Russia-annexed Crimea within Ukraine's borders
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2021 8:33 AM CDT
Ukraine's Soccer Uniform Ticks Off Russia
This handout photo taken from video shows Ukraine's new uniform for its national soccer team.   (President of Ukrainian Association of Football Andrii Pavelko's Facebook account via AP)

(Newser) – There's a push in many corners to keep politics out of sports, but with its latest move, Ukraine has made it clear it isn't part of that movement. On Sunday, less than a week before the Euro 2020 soccer championship kicks off on Friday, the country unveiled its new team kit, which includes a shirt with a map of Ukraine and a couple of slogans—all of which has irked some in Russia, reports the BBC. The yellow jersey—first displayed on the Facebook page of Andrii Pavelko, president of Ukraine's soccer association—shows a map of the nation, with the borders drawn in white, and including Crimea, which the international community still recognizes as belonging to Ukraine, even though Russia annexed it in 2014. The two slogans, meanwhile, read "Glory to Ukraine!" and "Glory to the heroes!," both of which are used as military greetings in Ukraine.

Russia doesn't view them as simple salutations, however, with a spokesperson for that country's Foreign Ministry calling them nationalistic and likening them to a Nazi rallying cry in wartime Germany. Russian politician Dmitry Svishchev adds that the uniform is a "political provocation," and that Ukraine showing a map that "includes a Russian territory is illegal," per Reuters. Meanwhile, UEFA, the sport's governing body, says it approved the uniform "in accordance with the applicable equipment regulations," and even Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov is shrugging off the controversy, noting tournament organizers have the right to give the thumbs-up to the uniform, per CNN. "Sport is sport," Peskov told reporters Monday. "We need to be above inciting hatred between Russians and Ukrainians." The US Embassy in Kyiv showed which side it's leaning toward, tweeting, "Love the new look. Glory to Ukraine!" and including the hashtag #CrimeaisUkraine. (Read more Ukraine stories.)

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