This is nothing new: the rag has been burning for several years between Russia and Ukraine, and the popular uprising of 2014, which resulted in the departure of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Since then, the tension has never subsided between the two neighboring countries, and the slightest pretext is good to rekindle the tensions. Including on a sporting level.
This week, it’s a football shirt that is causing controversy.
On Sunday, the Ukrainian football federation announced that the selection would wear “special outfits” for the 2021 European Championship, which begins this Friday in Rome with the opening match Italy-Turkey.
Occupied regions and populist slogans
The tunic, in the traditional blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag, bears the geographical shape of Ukraine, including … Crimea, a western region that Russia annexed in 2014, but also the areas of Ukraine. Donestk and Lugansk controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
And that’s not all … Two slogans – “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes” – also appear on the jersey, referred to a patriotic who became a rallying cry for the protesters of the popular uprising of 2014.
At the time, Russia had deemed this revolt illegal and triggered a political and military crisis with the former Soviet republic becoming independent.
Russian federation seizes Uefa
Since then, Russia has not allowed any affront to pass. And for the Kremlin, the attributes of this new Ukrainian jersey constitute an outright attack. The Russian football federation has also complained to Uefa in a letter.
“We draw attention to the use of political motives on the jersey of the Ukrainian national team which goes against the basic principles of the Uefa regulations on equipment,” said the press service of the RFS.
Ukrainian president poses with the jersey
The Ukrainian response was not long in coming. The head of state in person defended the new tunic, staging himself on social networks.
“It (the jersey, note) includes several important symbols that unite the Ukrainians,” wrote Volodymyr Zelensky on Instagram, in response to the strong reactions from Moscow …
Not sure that it eases the tensions. At the Euro, the two nations will not meet in the first round: Russia, one of the host countries, is in group B, while Ukraine has been placed in group C. If they qualify for the final phase, they will meet again, at best from the quarter-finals.
Source: Le Progrès : info et actu nationale et régionale – Rhône, Loire, Ain, Haute-Loire et Jura | Le Progrès by www.leprogres.fr.
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