Football news 2021, Euro 2020, Ukraine jersey, Russia reacts, Crimea

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Russia has expressed its anger at a tiny detail in Ukraine’s football tops for the upcoming Euro 2020 championship, which kicks off this week.

Ukraine unveiled its kit for the Euros on the Facebook page of Andrii Pavelko, the head of Ukraine’s Football Association.

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The predominantly yellow jersey features a map of Ukraine that includes Crimea, which is stitched around Ukraine’s national emblem.

The inclusion of Crimea on Ukaine’s official Euro 2020 kit has angered Russian officials. Source: Facebook (Andrii Pavelko)Source: Facebook

Russia took over control of Crimea in 2014 and has sought to integrate the contested peninsula permanently, but it is internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.

“We believe that the silhouette of Ukraine will give strength to the players, because they will fight for all Ukraine,” Pavelko said.

“And all Ukraine, from Sevastopol and Simferopol to Kyiv, from Donetsk and Lugansk to Uzhgorod will support them in every match.”

The cities of Sevastopol and Simferopol in Crimea are under Russian control, while Donetsk and Lugansk are controlled by fighters viewed as proxy Russian forces.

Russian officials swiftly rebuked the inclusion of Crimea on Ukraine’s kit. Russian parliamentary secretary deputy Dmitry Svishchev told Russian news agency RIA the shirt design was “a political provocation”.

He added showing a map of Ukraine “which includes a Russian territory is illegal”.

The shirt also features controversial slogans, which have riled up Russia. A slogan on the back reads “Glory to Ukraine!”, while the phrase

“Glory to the heroes!” appears on the inside of the jersey.

The slogan “Glory to the heroes!” on the inside of Ukraine’s Euro 2020 jersey has been compared to a Nazi rallying cry. Source: Facebook (Andrii Pavelko)Source: Facebook

Both statements have become widely used in Ukraine in the military and among supporters of the 2014 revolution that ousted former Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, who now lives in Russia.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, went one step further in her criticism of the jerseys, taking to social media to say the slogans were nationalistic and the slogan “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!” had similarities to a Nazi rallying cry.

The US embassy in Kiev weighed in on the diplomatic spat, showing its support for the controversial design.

“Love the new look. Glory to Ukraine! #CrimeaisUkraine,” it posted to Twitter.

Several Euro 2020 matches will be played in Russia at St Petersburg’s Krestovsky stadium, including a quarter-final. However, Ukraine is not scheduled to play in Russia or face off against the Russian national side.

Russia plays Belgium on June 12, and will also take on Finland and Denmark in Group B.

Euro 2020 was postponed until 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Twenty-four teams will battle it out for the title of the best footballing nation in Europe. The matches will be played at across several European countries including Russia, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Romania, Denmark, the Netherlands and Azerbaijan. London’s Wembley Stadium will host the final on July 12.

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