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Sun May 29 19:17:27 SAST 2016

Russian MPs slam FIFA for 'missing Crimea' on World Cup shirts

AFP | 15 March, 2016 15:19
The Russian Football Union executive committee session resolved to accept the Crimean clubs to play in the Second Division. Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March 2014, shortly after Ukrainian protesters toppled pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovich in February. File photo
Image by: STRINGER / REUTERS

A Russian lawmaker on Tuesday vowed to complain to world football's ruling body FIFA for selling 2018 World Cup T-shirts that show a map of host Russia without Crimea.

"We undoubtedly need to appeal to FIFA, we need to discuss this and demand that Russia be shown with its present-day borders," Igor Ananskikh, who sits on the physical culture and sports committee of the State Duma lower house, told R-Sport news agency.

Communist lawmaker Vladimir Rodin said earlier that he had sent an inquiry to Russia's government asking it to find out why T-shirts, had appeared on the FIFA official site showing a map of Russia without the Crimean peninsula, annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

"Our foreign ministry and Russia's Football Union (RFU) should react to such things in good time and not allow the sales of these T-shirts here," Rodin told R-Sport.

Ananskikh, a member of nationalist LDPR party, said that if FIFA refuses to make changes, the controversial T-shirts should be "removed from the list of 2018 World Cup official merchandise".

"We should be insistent and exacting over this matter," he stressed.

The lawmakers' demands reflect ongoing tensions between Russia and the West since the annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the ensuing conflict in Ukraine that has claimed more than 8,000 lives.

Last year FIFA deleted a Tweet containing a map of Russia that did not show Crimea, saying this was to avoid "any misunderstandings".

Meanwhile, FIFA's inclusion of the Crimean peninsula as part of Russia when it unveiled the logo of the 2018 World Cup in October 2014 forced the world football governing body to apologise to Ukraine.

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