Russian footballer Dmitri Tarasov reveals Putin shirt in Turkey match

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Lokomotiv Moscow's Dmitri Tarasov features an inner shirt with a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Istanbul, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016Image source, AP
Image caption,
Russia-Turkey ties have been tense since Turkey downed a Russian fighter

A Russian footballer who revealed a vest with a picture of President Putin after a match in Turkey is to be punished by his club.

Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Dmitri Tarasov's vest showed Mr Putin 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.

Istanbul side Fenerbahce won 2-0.

Lokomotiv Moscow called Tarasov's behaviour "unacceptable" in a statement on its website (in Russian).

The club itself is to be sanctioned by European football's governing body Uefa because players are not allowed to show political statements at matches, the organisation said.

But Tarasov later defended his behaviour.

"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".

"Go and train, Dima!"

Image source, Reuters

Some Russian social media users felt Tarasov should have focused on winning the match rather than making a political point.

"Go and train, Dima! Never mind expressing support, play better," wrote user "loko_94" on fan forum (in Russian).

"You would be better off using your tens of millions to support old Russian women who cannot afford firewood in a country filled with fuel!" added user "lewa_spb".

Some Twitter users, however, voiced support - "Lokomotiv were toothless and hopeless, but Tarasov was a beauty with that t-shirt," wrote user "pichushkin1979".

And Twitter user "vicehtpp" wondered: "If Tarasov had been wearing a Tibet t-shirt, would UEFA have got so up in arms?"

Media analysis by BBC Monitoring

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 Mr 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.

Image source, AFP/Getty
Image caption,
The Turkish side, in yellow, won the match 2-0