The governing body says “Glory to our heroes” is “of a political nature” following a complaint from Russia.
UEFA, the governing body of European football, has ordered Ukraine to remove a “political” slogan from its national football team for the next Euro 2020 tournament.
The message “Glory to our heroes”, inside the neck of the shirt, was “of a political nature”, UEFA said on Wednesday.
The slogan was widely used as a rallying cry during a popular uprising in Ukraine in 2014 that ousted Kremlin leader Viktor Yanukovych.
The UEFA measure came after Russia on Tuesday sent a letter of complaint to the governing body over the yellow jersey, which also includes a summary of the country’s borders including Crimea annexed to Russia and separatist-controlled regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
UEFA said the map was not a concern because a UN General Assembly resolution “recognizes territorial boundaries as outlined by design.”
He also ruled that a phrase that appears on the outside of the t-shirt – “Glory to Ukraine” – was acceptable because, by itself, it can be considered a “generic rather than political phrase of general national significance.”
This chant was also used by protesters who rallied against Yanukovych during the so-called Maidan revolution seven years ago.
However, the governing body said the “specific combination” of the two slogans on the T-shirt was “clearly political” and had historical and militaristic significance.
It was said that, therefore, the slogan “Glory to our heroes” that appears on the t-shirt should be removed.
‘Russia: sport is not a battlefield’
Russia immediately welcomed UEFA’s decision, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova saying the sport should not be mixed with politics.
“Sport is not a battlefield, but a place to compete; it is not a political field, but an athletic one. Become a hero of the sport and you will have your glory “, he said.
“Do it this way and not with nationalist slogans.”
Ukraine had said the t-shirt was a symbol of national unity and this week President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted a selfie on Instagram with the kit.
Tensions have persisted since Russia annexed Crimea and the start of a Russian-backed separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Ukraine will play its first match against Europe 2020 against the Netherlands on June 13 in Amsterdam and will also face Austria and Northern Macedonia in Group C.
Russia will face Belgium, the best-ranked team in the world, in their first turf phase in St Petersburg on June 12, before facing Denmark and Finland.