Ukraine sells out of controversial political shirts for Euro 2020

A controversial new Ukrainian football shirt has sold out less than a week after it was unveiled.

The yellow jersey, which will be worn at the upcoming Euro 2020 tournament, sparked fury in Moscow because it contains an outline of the country which includes Russian-controlled Crimea.

Although the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk were annexed by Russian separatists in 2014, they are still internationally recognised as belonging to Ukraine.

Andriy Pavelko, the head of his country’s football association, revealed the new shirt on Sunday in a Facebook post.

Explaining the motivation for the design, he said: “We believe that the silhouette of Ukraine will add strength to the players, because they will fight for all Ukraine.”

The kit also has the words ‘Glory to Ukraine!” written on the back, a patriotic slogan used in protests against the pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

Like all the other teams, Ukraine’s design received approval from European football’s governing body UEFA.

After calling the shirt provocative, Russia expressed its concerns to UEFA. “The Russian Football Union has appealed to UEFA to receive explanations,” sports minister Oleg Matytsin said.

In response, UEFA said neither the map – which reflects the UN-recognised borders – nor the phrase “Glory to Ukraine” were a problem. However, it has asked Ukraine to remove the words “Glory to the heroes” from the inside of the collar because of its military connotations.

The football body explained it decision by saying the “specific combination of the two slogans is deemed to be clearly political in nature, having historic and militaristic significance”.

Andriy Shevchenko, the Ukrainian manager and former professional footballer, said Russia’s reaction did not bother him. “I’m interested in our reaction. I think our fans liked our uniform, so I’m pleased,” he said.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy posted a picture of himself wearing the jersey on Instagram on Wednesday.

Other fans of the kit include the US embassy in Kyiv, which tweeted a picture of it on Monday along with the words: “Love the new look”.

Ukraine will play the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Sunday in their opening game at the Euro 2020 championship, which was delayed by a year because of the pandemic.

The tournament’s matches are being hosted across Europe, with St Petersburg being one of the venues.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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