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MOSCOW, December 15. /TASS/. Russia’s Lokomotiv Moscow FC will discuss with representatives of Turkey’s Fenerbahce FC issues concerning security provision for Russian fans at a match in Turkey next February, Alexey Yerunov, a Moscow club’s director on the work with fans, told TASS on Tuesday.
UEFA Europa League’s Round of 32 Draw was held in Switzerland’s Nyon on Monday and it paired Russia’s Lokomotiv against Turkish Fenerbahce for an away match on February 16 in Istanbul and the second leg encounter in Moscow on February 25.
"We will discuss with the Turkish side security issues and the travel of our fans to Istanbul," Yerunov said in an interview with TASS. "We would like for the Turkish side to welcome us better than it was the last time [at a match in November against Besiktas FC] and UEFA to pay attention to it."
Lokomotiv played an away UEFA Europa League’s match against Besiktas FC in November, when numerous violent clashes of fans with police were reported before and after the match.
"Undoubtedly, there will be some fans who will decide against traveling [to Turkey] for the match due to the political situation, but some on the contrary will decide to go," Yerunov said. "The club will once again discuss the situation with the fans security provision. I believe that some 500 fans will attend the away match."
Relations between Russia and Turkey were strained after an F-16 fighter jet from the Turkish Air Force shot down on November 24 a Russian Su-24M bomber, which was on anti-terrorism mission over Syria. Ankara claims the Su-24M bomber violated the Turkish air space in the area of the border with Syria, while Moscow maintains that the Su-24M plane stayed exclusively over the Syrian territory.
Following the incident the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Tourism advised Russian nationals against travelling to Turkey over security concerns. Furthermore, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced Russia’s decision to scrap visa-free regime with Turkey starting in 2016.
On top of all, the Russian Football Union (RFU) recommended the country’s football clubs against holding winter-time training sessions in Turkey. Similar recommendation was voiced by the Russian Ministry of Sports.
Kirill Kotov, the sports director of Lokomotiv FC, told TASS after the Draw in Nyon that the club would ponder a possibility of relocating the scheduled away match from Turkey to a neutral site.
"We cannot cancel the Draw," Kotov said in an interview with TASS. "We will think about holding the match on a neutral territory, but the game will be most probably held in Turkey."