Lokomotiv Moscow Player Dmitri Tarasov Reveals Vladimir Putin Shirt in Turkey Match
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.
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.