As UEFA orders changes to Ukraine jersey, a look back at instances when politics tackled football to the ground-Sports News , Justnewsday
As UEFA orders Ukraine to make changes to their Euro 2020 jersey to remove a ‘nationalist’ slogan that sparked protests from Russia, AFP looks at other political controversies on the pitch.
Paris: As UEFA orders Ukraine to make changes to their Euro 2020 jersey to remove a “nationalist” slogan that sparked protests from Russia, AFP looks at other political controversies on the pitch.
Not so hidden agenda
The Ukraine row was sparked by a slogan written on the inside of its team’s shirts — “Glory to the Heroes”, a rallying cry during 2014 anti-Russia protests in Kiev.
Deemed “clearly political” by European football’s governing body, it demanded Ukraine change them.
The front of the yellow jersey also features the outline of a map of Ukraine that includes Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
With Ukraine appealing the decision, its president Volodymyr Zelensky posted photographs of himself on Instagram holding the jersey and saying it bore “many important symbols that unify the Ukrainian people.”
Chile’s Middle East conflict
A map also got Chile’s Deportivo Palestino into hot water. The capital Santiago is home to the biggest Palestinian population outside the Middle East and the team have long played in the territories’ colours.
But the club outraged the country’s Jewish community in 2014 by putting a map of Palestine before the creation of the state of Israel on their shirts.
The Chilean federation banned the tops and fined the club $1,300 (around 1,000 euros).
A Euro 2016 qualifier in Belgrade between fractious Balkan neighbours Serbia and Albania descended into chaos after a drone carrying a nationalist flag bearing a map of “Greater Albania” flew over the pitch.
The match in 2014 had to be abandoned after Serbian fans invaded the pitch to attack Albanian players.
A diplomatic row erupted afterwards when the brother of the Albanian prime minister was accused of being behind the stunt, a claim he hotly denied.
With a long and bitter history between the rivals, Albanian fans had been banned from the stadium.
There were equally surreal scenes in 2019 during a Europa League match in Luxembourg between local club Dudelange and Azerbaijan’s Qarabag was halted for 20 minutes after a drone carrying an Armenian flag from the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh flew over the pitch.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over the disputed region since the fall of the Soviet Union.
As the drone hovered above the centre circle, Qarabag players attempted to down it with the ball, but their shots were all wide of the mark. They were better in front of goal, finally winning the tie 3-0.
Barca’s Catalan rebels
Barcelona has long been a mainstay of Catalan identity, the football club seen as resisting the imperiously Spanish Real Madrid and their most famous fan, the dictator General Francisco Franco.
Giant Catalan flags, including the independence-supporting Estelada, are often flown in the Camp Nou, seeing the club fined several times.
But it has not stopped fans chanting in favour of independence in the 17th minute of every match to mark the fall of Catalonia in the Spanish War of Succession in 1714.
Scottish champions Rangers — traditionally supported by the Protestant or Orange half of Glasgow — were accused of pandering to some of their fans’ sectarianism with their orange away kit in 2002.
While the club eventually withdrew the tops, insisting they were not orange but “tangerine”, they were hugely popular with fans who wore them in vast numbers for the Old Firm derby with bitter rivals Celtic, whose fan base is traditionally Catholic.
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