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23 Dec, 2021 13:35

Netherlands gives surprise verdict on controversial Ukrainian national slogans

Netherlands gives surprise verdict on controversial Ukrainian national slogans

The Dutch ambassador to Ukraine has spoken out on the banned national team shirt designs that caused outrage by carrying the slogans of 'Glory to Ukraine' and 'Glory to the Heroes'.

The Ukraine national team shirts, which were unveiled shortly before Euro 2020 before being outlawed by UEFA amid an escalating row, were described by Andriy Pavelko, the President of the Ukrainian Football Association, as showing the "only and undivided homeland".

That is a questionable statement given 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.

Russian football bosses were said to have expressed their concerns at the time to UEFA over the designs which had the slogans stitched into them.

The Kremlin also issued a statement emphasizing that there would be no non-sporting tensions between the two nations in any potential meeting at the finals – a fixture that did not transpire during the showpiece.

"Football is a sport that should always remain out of politics," the Russian Football Union said at the time.

Now Jennes de Mol, the Netherlands' key dignitary in Ukraine, has addressed the incendiary shirts during a meeting with Pavelko at the Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF).

"It was a very strong message for the whole world," De Mol was quoted by the UAF to have said during a summit that all discussed the prospect of the Netherlands participating in social projects in Ukraine, co-operation between the countries in the development of women's football and potential friendly matches.

"A huge compliment to you for the idea with this [design]. Personally, I'm delighted with [it] and still impressed."

De Mol is also said to have told chiefs that the shirt 'occupies an honorable place' in the Netherlands.

Speaking before the shirts were vetoed ahead of Euro 2020, Vladimir Konstantinov, the Chairman of the Parliament of the Republic of Crimea, spoke of his outrage at what he saw as "nationalist symbols" and "fascist slogans" weaved into the shirt.

"Of course, for Crimeans to look at all this outrage is offensive and disgusting," he was said to have told Russia-24.

"During the Great Patriotic War, I want to remind you that in the Crimea, more than 200,000 citizens were brutally killed.

"These are children, old people, women – and we honor this memory for everyone. This is a shrine for the Crimean family.

"The desecration of the graves of those who died in that war is so disgusting that I don't even have any desire to look at those people and comment personally."

Pavelko praised De Mol for their meeting. "I am grateful to the ambassador for the productive conversation and readiness to develop co-operation for the purpose of deepening friendly relations between Ukraine and the Kingdom of the Netherlands," he said afterwards.

The Netherlands beat Ukraine 3-2 in a group stage thriller at the tournament as both sides progressed to the knockout stage.

Oranje lost 2-0 to the Czech Republic in the Round of 16. Ukraine went out with a 4-0 defeat to England in the quarterfinals.