Moscow - Lokomotiv midfielder Dmitry Tarasov said he
revealed a T-shirt praising Vladimir Putin after a match with Turkey's
Fenerbahce as a gesture of support for the Russian president but did not intend
to upset anyone, local media reported Wednesday.
"He's my president, I respect him and decided to show
that I'm with him everywhere," the R-Sport agency quoted Tarasov as
After Tuesday's Europa League match between Turkish giants
Fenerbahce and Moscow's railway-backed side in Istanbul, which the hosts won
2-0, Tarasov stripped off his Lokomotiv shirt to reveal a picture of Putin in
military gear with the slogan "the most polite president".
The words were a reference to the euphemism used in Russia
for the Russian soldiers who carried out the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine
in 2014, who are known as "polite people".
Russian media reported that Tarasov may receive a long-term
ban for violation of UEFA regulations, which prohibit any kind of political,
ideological or religious propaganda at football matches.
Also read: Displaced by IS, Iraqi soccer star now off to the Olympics
The player, who will have to miss the return encounter with
Fenerbahce in Moscow after being cautioned in the match at Istanbul, defiantly
vowed to wear another T-shirt with Putin's image for his next appearance on the
"I didn't mean to abuse anybody or provoke,"
Tarasov said in an interview with the Lifenews TV channel.
"There's nothing so terrible about what I did and
people with sense, I believe, understand this clearly.
"Probably after the next match you will see me wearing
another t-shirt with Putin's image and a different slogan."
He added that he has not expected such a strong reaction to
the T-shirt. "I wore this T-shirt in the past but nobody paid any
attention to it," Tarasov said.
The incident sparked anger in the Turkish press, as the
government engages in an escalating war of words with Russia over the war in
Syria, where the two countries back opposing sides.
"A Putin provocation from a Russian footballer,"
fumed the pro-government Yeni Safak daily Wednesday.
There were no reports of any serious trouble between home
and visiting fans but the bus carrying Lokomotiv supporters to the stadium was
reportedly attacked by Fenerbahce fans, who threw stones at their Russian
the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us
on Twitter and like our Facebook page.