Russia complains to Uefa over Ukraine's 'political' Euro 2020 jersey

image copyrightAFP
image captionUkraine's shirt is emblazoned with its borders including Russian-annexed Crimea

Russia has sent a complaint letter to the European football's governing body Uefa over what Moscow says is Ukraine's "political" Euro 2020 kit.

The Russian Football Union (RFS) argues that this "goes against the basic principles" of the Uefa.

Uefa told the BBC the jersey "has been approved by Uefa, in accordance with the applicable equipment regulations."

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and considers it a part of its territory, something rejected internationally.

The head of the Ukrainian Football Association (UAF), Andriy Pavelko, revealed the kit in a video on his Facebook page on Sunday, just days before the European Championship kicks off.

The front of the yellow and the away blue shirts show the contours of Ukraine in white, including Crimea and the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have been partially seized by pro-Russian separatists.

image copyrightFacebook/Andrii Pavelko/Reuters
image captionA promotional video showed the map lit up

A slogan on the back reads "Glory to Ukraine!" and another one - "Glory to heroes!" - is stitched on the inside of the shirt collar.

The slogans are now used as official military greetings in Ukraine, and were a rallying cry by protesters who forced out pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

The motto's origins are rooted in Ukraine's decades-long anti-Soviet insurgency.

"We believe that Ukraine's silhouette will give strength to the players because they will fight for all of Ukraine," Mr Pavelko said.

"It knows how to shock. It bears many important symbols that unify the Ukrainian people."

Meanwhile, Ukraine's head coach Andriy Shevchenko said he did not care what the reaction from Russia was.

The US embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, tweeted "love the new look", with a photo of the new kit.

image copyrightFacebook/Andrii Pavelko
image captionThe slogan inside the away shirt reads "Glory to the heroes!"

But Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticised the kits, saying the football team had "attached Ukraine's territory to Russia's Crimea", creating the "illusion of the impossible".

She said the slogan was nationalistic and echoed a Nazi rallying cry.

Russian MP Dmitry Svishchev called the shirt "totally inappropriate" and urged Uefa to take action.

The tournament, postponed due to Covid-19, will run from 11 June to 11 July across 11 host cities, including Russia's Saint Petersburg, which hosts a quarter-final.

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