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Russian soccer player Dmitri Tarasov taunted Turkish fans by pulling off his shirt to reveal a picture of President Vladimir Putin after a match in Istanbul.

Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Dmitri Tarasov’s vest showed Vladimir Putin in a navy cap along with the words “the most polite president”.

The politically-charged Europa League match was the biggest sporting encounter between the nations since Turkey shot down a Russian jet in November.

Turkish side Fenerbahce won 2-0.

Lokomotiv Moscow is now likely to face punishment because European soccer’s governing body UEFA does not allow political statements during matches.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Dmitri Tarasov later defended his behavior.

“It’s my president. I respect him and decided to show that I’m always with him and prepared to give my support,” he told Russian news agency R-Sport.

“What was written on that shirt was everything that I wanted to say,” he added.

Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak described the gesture as “a Putin provocation”.

Relations have been tense since Turkey downed a Russian fighter that it said was in its airspace.

The incident sparked a continuing war of words between Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the conflict in Syria.

Before the match in Istanbul, bottles were thrown at the Lokomotiv team bus as it made its way to the stadium. Turkish police said they made three arrests.

However, UEFA rejected calls to separate Russian and Turkish clubs in European competitions and will also not separate the two nations in the draw for this summer’s European Championship.

Fenerbahce’s team bus has been attacked by a gunman after their 5-1 victory at Rizespor.

The driver was taken to hospital but no players were injured in the attack, which happened while they were travelling to Trabzon airport.

PM Ahmet Davutoglu said an investigation was under way.

The Turkish Football Federation condemned the attack and Fenerbahce general secretary Mahmut Uslu said the incident was “very wrong”.

Photo Al Jazeera Turk

Photo Al Jazeera Turk

“We come here to do sport; we come to play football,” said Mahmut Uslu, who was on the bus at the time of the attack.

Abdulcelil Oz, the governor of Trabzon in the north-east of Turkey, initially said the bus appeared to have been hit by a stone but later released a second statement, saying it seemed to have been a bullet.

“The latest situation is that it appears to be a gun,” Abdulcelil Oz said.

“It is too soon to say anything definite, but it appears to be a type of bullet fired by a rifle.”

Large crowds of Fenerbahce fans waited at Istanbul Airport to welcome the players back.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Fenerbahce supporter, reportedly called the local governor to inquire about the investigation into the incident.

Fenerbahce are the defending champions and have won the major domestic competition 19 times, with former Premier League players Dirk Kuyt, Raul Meireles and Emre in their side.

Istanbul-based Fenerbahce went top of the table with their victory on April 4, one point ahead of bitter rivals Galatasaray.

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Hundreds of fans from Istanbul football club Fenerbahce have clashed with police and occupied the pitch after Galatasaray won Turkish league championship final.

Fenerbahce’s traditional rival, Galatasaray, won the Turkish league championship following Saturday’s goalless derby.

Police used their shields to protect Galatasaray players on the pitch at Fenerbahce’s Sukru Saracoglu stadium.

Officers used pepper spray to disperse fans as players fled to changing rooms.

The violence followed a tense game during which referee Cuneyt Cakir booked several players and issued red cards to one player from each team.

After the final whistle, fans broke plastic chairs and threw them at the police and Galatasaray players. Flares were also thrown.

After the final whistle, Fenerbahce fans broke plastic chairs and threw them at the police and Galatasaray players

After the final whistle, Fenerbahce fans broke plastic chairs and threw them at the police and Galatasaray players

Violence continued outside the stadium, with Fenerbahce fans pelting a police vehicle with stones.

Rioters overturned rubbish bins and smashed shop windows, leaving nearby streets littered with debris.

Fenerbahce fans in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district also overturned two police vehicles and set them on fire.

While journalists, players and even policemen were said to have been affected by pepper spray, there were no reports of injuries.

However, elsewhere in the country a 29-year-old man wearing a Galatasaray shirt was attacked by Fenerbahce fans and stabbed in the abdomen, the state-run Anatolia agency said. The man was said to be in a stable condition.

Galatasaray ended the four-way title play-offs with 48 points, one ahead of Fenerbahce. Trabzonspor were third and Besiktas fourth.

Galatasaray, former UEFA Cup winners, are now level on 18 championships with Fenerbahce.

Their fans celebrated in Istanbul, dancing, lighting flares and waving flags.

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