North Macedonia’s defender Stefan Ristovski takes part in an MD-1 training session at the National Arena in Bucharest on June 16, 2021, on the eve of their UEFA EURO 2020 Group C football match against Ukraine. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / POOL / AFP)
UEFA on Wednesday rejected Greece’s request to change the North Macedonia shirt at Euro 2020 after the Greeks argued that the current version violated a historic treaty between the Balkan neighbours.
Greece said the initials FFM (Football Federation of Macedonia) that feature on the shirt refer to the Balkan country’s name before a 2018 treaty resolved a longstanding diplomatic row between the Balkan neighbours.
UEFA confirmed it had received a letter from the Greek government requesting that the shirt be modified.
But European football’s governing body said it had rejected the request because “UEFA uses the name Football Federation of North Macedonia in all its official communication and has adapted the relevant terminology accordingly, including in the UEFA statutes and with regard to UEFA Euro 2020”.
Until recently, North Macedonia competed under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to avoid ire from Greece, who never accepted the name “Macedonia” because it has a province of the same name.
UEFA did intervene before the tournament to order Ukraine to remove a slogan from its shirt after it angered Russia.
Russia was furious at the slogan — “Glory to the Heroes” — because the words became a rallying cry for pro-Western protesters who ousted a Kremlin-backed leader in 2014.
UEFA ruled that the slogan was “political” but agreed a compromise with the Ukrainian football association which involved covering the slogan with a smaller version of the map of Ukraine.
A larger version of the outline of Ukraine on the front of the shirt includes Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.