- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) - UEFA has fined Russian midfielder Dmitry Tarasov 5,000 euros ($5,600) for wearing a shirt bearing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s face at a Europa League game.

The Lokomotiv Moscow player took off his team shirt to reveal 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 said 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, saying it violated Turkish airspace on the border with Syria.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Kremlin did not back 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.

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

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.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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