Russia criticises Ukraine’s EURO 2020 kit for featuring Crimea

Russia lashed out at Ukraine on Sunday after the national men”s football team revealed a new jersey for the Euro 2020 competition featuring a map of the country that includes Crimea.

Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 but Kyiv considers the move to have been illegal. The peninsula is regarded as occupied Ukrainian territory by the majority of governments worldwide.

Ukraine’s new kit unveiled on Sunday by its Football Association shows the outline of the country’s borders, including the peninsula. It also features slogans reading “Glory to Ukraine” and “Glory to the heroes!”.

The slogans are chants first used in Ukraine during World War I as a rallying cry against Soviet rule that have been revived by the country’s military following the conflict in the east of the country against pro-Russia separatists and the annexation of Crimea.

Andriy Pavelko, the head of Ukraine’s Football Association, wrote on Facebook that the border outline “will give strength to the players, because they will fight for Ukraine.”

“Football and the national team are uniting Ukraine! Glory to Ukraine!,” he added.

Russia’ foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova sharply criticised the kit in a Facebook rebuke, writing that the “Ukrainian football team has attached the territory of Ukraine to Russia’s Crimea on its uniform”.

She said it creates “the illusion of the impossible” and described it as “deceit”. She added that the slogans were “nationalist”, and had been used by Nazi collaborators.

“Kyiv wants to distance this slogan from its uncomfortable origin and fill it with new positive meaning so that it is perceived globally exclusively as progressive and as consonant as possible with the global agenda,” she went on, adding that it amounts to “state propaganda”.

Dmitry Svishchev, a Russian MP and deputy of the State Duma, called for UEFA, Europe’s football governing body, to ban the kit. He was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying the kit was “totally inappropriate”, and “political provocation”.

Euro 2020 was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will kick off on June 11.

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