Newsbeat

World Cup 2018: Conor McGregor sparks controversy with Putin photo

Vladimir Putin and Conor McGregor Image copyright AFP/Getty

Conor McGregor has caused controversy by calling Russian president Vladimir Putin "one of the greatest leaders of our time".

The MMA fighter posted a photo to Instagram of himself with Mr Putin at the World Cup final in Moscow.

Some fans weren't happy with the 30-year-old's choice to accept the Russian leader's invitation to the match in Moscow.

Mr Putin has previously been accused of human rights abuses.

But Russia has been praised for hosting a safe and enjoyable World Cup.

According to his Instagram post, Conor was invited as a guest of Mr Putin.

The Irishman ended the post with "go Russia!" written in Russian.

Comments on McGregor's Instagram and Twitter profiles told him to "research the history".

Criticisms of Mr Putin include his policy of banning "gay propaganda", which the European Court of Human Rights has ruled is discriminatory and encourages homophobia.

The country is also accused by the UK of poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on British soil.

The UK didn't send any government ministers or members of the Royal Family to the World Cup as a result of the poisoning.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Emmanuel Macron celebrates France's World Cup win alongside Fifa President Gianni Infantino, Vladimir Putin and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

But Russia's World Cup has been praised as one of the best ever - both for what happened on the pitch and off it.

Many expected trouble with fans - especially after there was violence between Russian and English fans at Euro 2016 - which never materialised.

However, it has been argued that democracy, human rights and freedom of speech will be under attack again now the World Cup has left town.

Conor McGregor's Russian UFC rival Khabib Nurmagomedov was also at the World Cup final.

The pair's appearance at the match comes as the Notorious revealed his "Russian compound is taking shape" in another Instagram post - with many fans hoping it means the two stars are finally set to fight in the cage.

Newsbeat has contacted representatives of Conor McGregor for comment.

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra - if you miss us you can listen back here.

More on this story