Ukraine angered Moscow when it revealed the shirt that its national team players will wear during the European Cup of Nations scheduled for next Friday.
The head of the Ukrainian Football Federation, Andriy Pavelko, announced on Facebook that the Ukrainian players would wear “special clothes” and posted pictures of the blue and yellow shirts of the Ukrainian flag.
“The Ukrainian national team will present its Euro 2020 performance in a special and new way, the main feature of which will be the talisman, the symbol dear to the heart of every Ukrainian,” Andrei wrote.
Then he continued, “a single and undivided homeland with Crimea, Donetsk, Lugansk, Kiev, Dnipro, Lviv, Odessa and all the cities and villages where the national anthem is the melody of the national era.”
The Ukrainian team’s symbol includes the shape of Ukraine and includes Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which are controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
The slogan was also included with the words “Glory to Ukraine!” Glory to the heroes!”, referring to a patriotic song that became the rallying cry of protesters who ousted the Kremlin-backed leader, Viktor Yanukovych, during the popular uprising in 2014.
Those slogans drew criticism from Moscow.
“During the war, Ukrainian armed units used Nazi cries,” said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, in a post on the Telegram app.
Moscow considered the revolution illegitimate and led to a crisis between Russia and Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that gained independence in 1991.
The call of “Glory to Ukraine” and the response to “Glory to the heroes” are linked to decades of a long struggle for Ukraine’s independence.
24 teams will face the European Cup in football, starting from June 11, in a postponed version of the summer of 2020 due to the Corona virus, and the rules of the finals have been adapted to the pandemic protection protocols.
The finals system will be similar to the last edition in France 2016 won by Portugal: six groups in the first round made up of four teams.
Each team plays three matches in the group stage, and the champion and runner-up of each group and the four best third-placed teams advance to the round of 16.
National federations are counting on financial prizes for the European Cup, in light of the financial crisis caused by the Corona virus and empty stadiums.
The Confederation expected to distribute 371 million euros to 24 participants.
Each team receives 9.25 million euros once they participate in the tournament, while the prizes for the champions reach 34 million euros.