‘We are kindred’: Putin secretary insists match between Russia and Ukraine at Euro 2020 would not stir tensions amid shirt debate

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Vladimir Putin’s press secretary has said that a potential Euro 2020 showdown between the national team and Ukraine, who have unveiled a new shirt design viewed by some as controversial, would lead to purely sporting tensions.

Ukraine’s striking new strip, featuring a map including the Crimean Peninsula and slogans such as “glory to the heroes”, has caused a stir among sportspeople and politicians after being revealed on the eve of the tournament.

Despite a suggestion to RT from deputy of the State Duma Dmitry Svishchev that UEFA could “act strongly” over the shirt, the tournament organizers have confirmed that the design was approved “in accordance with the applicable equipment regulations.”

In a remark that could be viewed as contentious, politician and Ukrainian football supremo Andriy Pavelko called the map depicted within the fabric the “only and undivided homeland”, seeming to overlook the fact that the Crimean Peninsula was made part of Russia following a referendum held on the territory and the signing of the accession treaty in 2014 in the midst of the Ukrainian revolution.



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While global media attention has swiftly focused on the curious design and ensuing debate, Kremlin communications official Dmitry Peskov said that a fixture between the two nations “will not spur” any straining of relations.

“Sport is sport and we need to be higher than inciting some kind of hatred between Russians and Ukrainians,” Peskov told RIA Novosti.

“We have always been against this and vice versa. We are convinced that we are kindred. And at least in our country, Ukrainians are always welcome guests.”

Ukraine could wear the shirt for the first time when they host Cyprus in their final friendly before the tournament on Sunday.

Russia and Ukraine would need to successfully navigate tricky groups in their opening matches and reach at least the quarterfinal stages before there is any prospect of Andriy Shevchenko’s side being able to wear the shirt showing Russian territory against their neighbors.

Both countries will be hopeful of reaching the knockout stages, with Russia enjoying home comforts in their first two matches against top-ranked Belgium and tournament newcomers Finland, hosting their opponents in St. Petersburg.

Ukraine face two fixtures against teams hardly considered European heavyweights in Austria and North Macedonia, while a positive result against the Netherlands would not be a huge upset given that the underperforming Oranje have struggled against lesser-ranked sides including Scotland and Turkey in recent months.

Shevchenko scored a late equalizer when Ukraine last met Russia, ensuring a 1-1 draw in a qualifier for the finals in Moscow in 1999.



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Source – www.rt.com

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