Ukraine 'in talks' with UEFA to reverse Euro jersey decision

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Soccer (Photo by Dimitri Iundt/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
Soccer (Photo by Dimitri Iundt/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Ukraine's football association said Thursday it was in emergency talks with UEFA to reverse a decision by Europe's football governing body to remove a slogan from Ukraine jerseys following protests from Russia.

The association chief, Andriy Pavelko, said he had flown to Rome earlier Thursday for talks with UEFA.

"Ukraine's football association is in talks with UEFA to keep in place the slogan on its jerseys," a spokesman for the association told AFP.

Kiev has provoked Moscow's ire after its football association unveiled Euro 2020 kits that show the outline of Ukraine including Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

The shirts also feature the words "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes!"

The slogans have drawn criticism from Moscow for their association with World War II-era nationalist groups who cooperated with the Nazis.

European football's governing body initially said the Ukrainian shirt "has been approved by UEFA, in accordance with the applicable equipment regulations".

But after Russia formally complained to UEFA over Ukraine's "political" Euro 2020 kit, European football's governing body reversed its stance.

UEFA ordered the removal of the slogan "Glory to the Heroes" that is featured on the inside collars of the jersey of Ukraine's team.

In 2014, the slogan became a rallying cry for pro-Western protesters who ousted a Kremlin-backed leader.

In a post on Facebook, Pavelko insisted again that the words on the jerseys were not political.

"This slogan has long been a traditional greeting for our fans at all stadiums and at all matches of Ukraine's national team," he said.

On the front of the yellow shirt, the outline of Ukraine -- which gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 -- is picked out in white, including Crimea and the separatist-controlled regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.

UEFA said the map would not need to be changed because a United Nations General Assembly Resolution "recognises the territorial borders as broadly depicted by the design".

The slogan "Glory to Ukraine", featured on the outside of the jersey, was also approved by UEFA as "on its own (it) may be considered as a generic and non-political phrase of general national significance".

Russia said the partial changes were not enough.

A spokesman for the Russian Football Union told AFP that the Ukrainian kit was still "politicised and creates a dangerous precedent."

In a statement on Thursday, the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky defended the shirts.

"These phrases are written into the soul of every Ukrainian," the presidency said.

"They unite us, help us build and protect our native Ukraine."

Pavelko said that the association had received "massive positive feedback" from fans and noted that many people wanted to purchase the new shirts.

On Thursday, a representative of Joma, the Spanish sportswear company that supplies Ukraine's kits, told AFP that some 1,500 new T-shirts had already been sold.

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