UEFA insist that Ukraine remove the ‘political’ slogan from their kit
European football’s governing body UEFA has instructed the Ukrainian national team to remove the phrase “Glory to the heroes!” from the national team kit on the eve of Euro 2020, due to the slogan’s military connotations.
Ukraine’s shirt for Euro 2020 was initially emblazoned with a map of Ukraine’s borders including Crimea as well as two slogans. One on the back read “Glory to Ukraine!” while inside the shirt were the words: “Glory to the heroes!” — a military greeting in Ukraine.
UEFA initially approved the design but backtracked on Thursday following complaints from the Russian Football Union and instructed Ukraine to remove the slogan on the inside of their shirts.
The slogan on the back of the shirt as well as the map emblazoned across the shirt are permitted to remain, however.
Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and considers it a part of its sovereign territory, something disputed internationally.
The slogan “Glory to Ukraine, Glory to the Heroes” is used as the official greeting within the Ukrainian Army.
It is a slogan that does not have a simplistic past, with roots tracing back to the first nationalist movements in the 19th century and the Ukrainian War of Independence in the early 20th century. But it was also a rallying cry of the far-right Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) during the 1930s, whose associated paramilitary groups committed atrocities against Poles and Jews during the Second World War.
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It re-emerged to prominence during the 2014 Euromaidan demonstrations, becoming one of the symbols of the protests.
In a statement on Thursday UEFA said the map embossed on the front of the shirt was not a concern given it reflected U.N.-recognised borders, nor was the phrase “Glory to Ukraine”.
UEFA ordered the removal of the second phrase on the inside of the shirt, however, given “the specific combination of the two slogans (which) is deemed to be clearly political in nature, having historic and militaristic significance.
Honorary president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) Vyacheslav Koloskov called on UEFA to publicly explain its decision to allow the shirt: “This decision is absolutely inexplicable, they refer to the rules, but do not quote them,” he told Championat.com.
The Russian Football Union then made a formal complaint to UEFA.
Ukrainian officials strongly defended the shirt, however. Upon its unveiling, Andriy Pavelko, the head of the Ukrainian FA, said the shirt would “add strength to the players, because they will fight for all Ukraine”, referencing cities occupied or in conflict.