UEFA fines Russian player for provocative T-shirt he wore in Turkey

UEFA imposes light fine on Russian midfielder Dmitry Tarasov for wearing T-shirt bearing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s face at game between Lokomotiv Moscow and Fenerbahce in Istanbul, Turkey

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Locomotiv Moscow's Dmitri Tarasov features a T-shirt with a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the slogan "The most polite President," following a Europa League first leg round of 32, soccer match against Fenerbahce in Istanbul, Turkey. [AP]

UEFA has given a light fine to Russian midfielder Dmitry Tarasov 5,000 euros ($5,600) for wearing a T-shirt bearing Russian President Vladimir Putin's face at a Europa League game.

The Lokomotiv Moscow player took off his team shirt to show the Putin T-shirt while on the field following a 2-0 loss to Turkish club Fenerbahce last month in Istanbul. 

Beneath the image of Putin wearing a Russian Navy cap were the words in Russian: "The most polite president."

UEFA announced the shirt broke rules on displaying political slogans or advertising on undergarments.

"It's my president. I respect him and decided to show that I'm always with him and prepared to give my support," Tarasov told the R-Sport agency at the time. "What was written on that shirt was everything that I wanted to say."

The match took place with tensions running high between the Russian and Turkish governments after Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane in November, claiming it violated Turkish airspace on the border with Syria.

Tarasov's fine is a much lighter punishment than UEFA decided in the best-known similar Nicklas Bendtner case. When he had revealed the logo of a betting company on his underpants during the 2012 European Championship, UEFA banned the Denmark forward for one game and fined 100,000 euros.

According to UEFA regulations, a player can be punished if he or she reveals political, religious, personal slogans, statements or images, or advertising messages other than the manufacturer’s logo during a match.

His team, Lokomotiv Moscow also sought to distance themselves from Tarasov's actions and have fined the player 300,000 euros ($338,000).The club stressed that it "fully shares UEFA's zero tolerance of any forms of discrimination and political propaganda." 

"The footballer did not let anybody in on his plans. His initiative was inappropriate and harmful both for the club and for himself," the club said in a statement.

Fenerbahce's players and team members sit on the bench during the Europa League second leg round of 32 soccer match between Lokomotiv Moscow and Fenerbahce at Lokomotiv stadium in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 25, 2016. [AP]

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Kremlin did not support Tarasov.

"There are certain rules and in this situation we don't think it's right to interfere in these rules, and we're leaving it to the football institutions and authorities," Peskov said.

The Europa League fixture between Lokomotiv and Fenerbahce was the most high-profile meeting of Russian and Turkish teams since UEFA rejected calls last year to separate the two countries in competition draws.

Russia and Turkey avoided each other in the draw for the 2016 European Championship, which takes place in France this summer.

But Lokomotiv and Fenerbahce were paired in the Europa League round of 32, with the Turkish club winning 3-1 on aggregate.

Bottles were thrown at Lokomotiv's team bus as it headed to Sukru Saracoglu Stadium for the first leg. Turkish police said three people it detained were drunk, and the attack was by Fenerbahce fans.

The second leg in Moscow took place under heavy security, including a police guard for the Fenerbahce players, and passed without incident.

TRTWorld and agencies