Days before Euro 2020, the Russian Football Union (RFU) has written to UEFA to “draw attention to the use of political motives” in the controversial design of Ukraine’s new shirt, warning them that a “precedent” is being set.
Ukraine played in the new shirt, which features slogans such as ‘glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes’ and a map including the Crimean Peninsula, as they won their final warm-up match before the tournament 4-0 against Cyprus on Monday.
An escalating political row has developed as a result of the curious design, which Ukrainian football boss Andriy Pavelko described as showing the “only and undivided homeland” – a questionable summary given that the Crimean Peninsula was made part of Russia following a referendum held on the territory and the signing of the accession treaty in 2014 in the midst of the Ukrainian revolution.
A Kremlin statement insisted that there would be no non-sporting tensions between the two nations should they meet at the finals, but the RFU is now said to have contacted the tournament organizers, who had confirmed that they accepted the design of the shirt, to express its concerns.
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“Football is a sport that should always remain out of politics,” the union was quoted to have told the administrative body by TASS.
“In our opinion, by agreeing on such a form, UEFA are setting a precedent, because already, at the next major tournament, we can see attempts by other countries to use their equipment for political statements.
“We sent a letter to UEFA in which we draw attention to the use of political motives in the uniform of the Ukrainian national team, which violates the guidelines of the UEFA equipment regulations, which prohibit political speech.”
Vladimir Konstantinov, the Chairman of the Parliament of the Republic of Crimea, was appalled by what he saw as a “nationalist symbols” and “fascist slogans” weaved into the shirt, which was announced less than a week before the cross-European showpiece begins.
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“Of course, for Crimeans to look at all this outrage is offensive and disgusting,” he is said to have told Russia-24. “During the Great Patriotic War, I want to remind you that in the Crimea, more than 200,000 citizens were brutally killed.
“These are children, old people, women – and we honor this memory for everyone. This is a shrine for the Crimean family.
“The desecration of the graves of those who died in that war is so disgusting that I don’t even have any desire to look at those people and comment personally.”
Russia begin their Euro 2020 campaign against Belgium in St. Petersburg on Saturday, with Ukraine facing the Netherlands in Amsterdam the following evening. (RT)
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