Just before Italy demolished a depleted Switzerland a shocking piece of news came from North Macedonia and UEFA about the minnows jersey.
The European governing body had discarded 2004 Euro Champions Greece’s application of changing North Macedonia’s outfit.
Greece and North Macedonia have been having long debates in terms of who gets the right of the title Macedonia. Macedonia is a province outside Greece and the country didn’t let them acquire the name until they had a territorial name with Macedonia.
The difference in appellation between the Republic of Macedonia, the neighbouring Greek province of Macedonia, and the historic Greek state of Macedon sparked the disagreement. The Greeks objected to such a proposed adoption of the term “Macedonia” if they lacked a territorial qualification such as “Northern Macedonia” for usage. Greece also opposed the usage of the label “Macedonian” for the neighbouring state’s greatest national community and dialect because a considerable number of cultural Greeks are considered as Macedonians and astonishingly aren’t connected to indigenous Macedonians.
On September 30, 2018, Macedonia conducted a public vote in which people decisively supported EU and NATO admission by embracing the Prespa accord. Unfortunately, political participation fell far short of the 50% mark required to legitimise the outcome.  The accord went into effect on February 12, 2019, when the two parties authorized the document. In March 2020, North Macedonia came into existence.
North Macedonia was seeded in Group-G alongside some tough rivals who could have spoiled their party. With heavyweights Poland and Austria looking as favourites, Macedonia could have finished as the 3rd best team. And they, fortunately, accomplished it, winning the ticket to Euro 2020. The stage was set as the fans prepared for a mouth-watering fixture against David Alaba’s Austria. Although the country troubled Austria here and there, the experience of the Austrians shattered Macedonia’s dreams.
THE COMPLAINT AND UEFA’S TAKE ON IT
But after the match Greece filed a mysterious complaint, questioning North Macedonia’s jersey. A 2018 agreement ended a lengthy political dispute involving the two countries. But, according to Greece, The letters FFM (Football Federation of Macedonia) on the jersey of North Macedonia, allude to the status of Balkan countries.UEFA came forward and explained that it had acquired a complaint from the Greeks pleading the body to get the jerseys swapped.
Although the petition was turned down by European sport’s regulatory authority as “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 concerning Uefa Euro 2020”.
North Macedonia battled as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) till shortly to escape the clutches of Greece, which refused to acknowledge the term “Macedonia” since it has a territory with an identical title. But after the referendum, it converted its name to North Macedonia.
NOT THE FIRST TIME.
Just before the summer of Euro 2020 kicked off, UEFA received a similar complaint from 2018 World Cup hosts Russia. The Russians weren’t happy. UEFA did intervene before the tournament to order Ukraine to remove a slogan from its shirt after it angered Russia.
The motto, “Glory to the Heroes,” enraged Russia since it became a campaign slogan for pro-Western protestors who deposed a Kremlin-backed ruler in 2014.
The phrase was deemed “political” by Uefa, however, a settlement was reached with the Ukrainian soccer federation which included concealing the statement with a miniature representation of the country’s outline.
On the reverse side of the jersey, an enlarged representation of the map of Ukraine contains Crimea, which Moscow acquired in 2014.
With UEFA rejecting Greece’s plea it’s interesting to see if Greece would react to UEFA’s decision. North Macedonia plays Ukraine next, the two teams involved in ‘political problems’. It will be interesting if Greece still keeps on complaining or live with the problematic jersey of North Macedonia.