Russian football team Lokomotiv Moscow is heading for trouble from Europe’s ruling football body after one of its players pulled off his shirt to reveal a portrait of Russian leader Vladimir Putin with a slogan supporting him.
The incident happened on the pitch after a politically charged game in Istanbul against Turkey’s Fenerbahce on Tuesday.
Beneath the portrait of Putin, who is wearing a Russian navy cap in the picture, Dimitri Tarasov’s vest read in Russian: “The most polite president”.
Lokomotiv is almost certain to face disciplinary action from UEFA because political statements are banned at its competitions.
Separately, Turkish police detained three people after bottles were thrown at a bus carrying the Russian team’s fans as it headed for the Europa League match in the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium.
Police said the three people were drunk and that one of the bus’s windows was slightly cracked. Turkish media reported that those responsible were Fenerbahce fans.
Relations between Turkey and Russia have been tense since November when Turkey shot down a Russian military plane that crossed its border near Syria.
Tarasov later defended his behaviour, telling Russian sport news agency R-Sport: “It is my president. I respect him and decided to show that I am always with him and prepared to give my support.
“What was written on that shirt was everything that I wanted to say.”
Late last year, UEFA rejected calls to separate Russia and Turkey in the draw for this summer’s European Championship, as well as the two countries’ clubs in the Europa League draws.
Tuesday’s first-leg match was in the Europa League’s round of 32 and Lokomotiv lost the match 2-0.
The Russian team played a UEFA Europa League match away against another Turkish side, Besiktas, in November and its fans clashed with the police.