Bucharest is the host city for three matches played in Group C of the UEFA EURO 2020 Football Tournament. Austria, North Macedonia, and Ukraine are playing some of the games in Bucharest.
Two of the national football teams provoked outrage at the international level. Why? Nothing else but their…shirts.
Ukraine involved in a diplomatic dispute with Russia for the T-shirts used at EURO 2020
Ukraine was the first national football team involved in a diplomatic incident for the shirts used during the games. Precisely, Russia contested the Ukrainian national football team’s kit to UEFA for two reasons: the first is because the Ukrainian map on the T-shirt depicts the situation before the annexation of the Crimea region. The second reason is because of the slogan written inside the shirts, which says “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes!”, a patriotic chant in Ukraine used during World War II when Ukrainian nationalists allied with the Nazis.
Russia’s complaint to UEFA solved almost nothing: the map will be present on the Ukrainian shirts as that is the map recognized by the international institutions, including the UN. Also, the slogan was only separated into two different ones: “Glory to Ukraine!” is going to remain on the inside of the shirts, while “Glory to the Heroes!” is going to be written on another side of the kit.
North Macedonia contested by Greece for using a kit with an unofficial name of the country
Macedonia is the former Yugoslav republic that gained its independence and separated from the former union in 1991 when they took the name of the Republic of Macedonia.
As we know, Greece had a long dispute with Macedonia over the name of the former Yugoslav country and they even opposed the entrance of the Republic of Macedonia to NATO following the name dispute. Later on, in 2018, the two countries agreed for Macedonia to change its official name into the Republic of North Macedonia, which is now the name of the country.
Still, the kit used by the North Macedonian team during the match they played on National Arena in Bucharest wrote the abbreviation “FFM”, meaning Football Federation of Macedonia, instead of “FFNM”, meaning Football Federation of North Macedonia, which causes the Greek’s upset once more and determined them to report the situation to UEFA.
EURO 2020 became a political ground for diplomatic, nationalist, and racist disputes
If we add the #BLM controversy, with some teams kneeling before the games while others prefer standing, we have a more accurate image of a competition that became, more than ever, a political ground for nationalist, racial or diplomatic disputes.
Sport should have no border, no official language, and no race. Also, sport should stay away from politics. Football, as a social phenomenon, is the first temptation for all those who want to use it for their interest. This is why football should be the most protected of all the sports out there from all these interferences.
When football is used in such a way, we don’t witness a competition anymore, but a contest. A contest that reminds us more of EUROVISION than of anything else.