MOSCOW, December 26. /TASS/. A political crisis in the relations of Russia and Turkey triggered by the attack of Turkish Air Force’s fighter jets on the Russian Su-24M bomber over Syria will bear no consequences for the Turkish footballers’ careers in Russia, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said in a televised interview aired by the Rossiya 24 broadcaster on Saturday.
Mutko, who heads Russia’s Football Union, noted that a few Turkish nationals play for Russian football clubs.
"If I am not mistaken, there are about five players," he said adding they had no problems.
"It cannot affect humanitarian, human contacts," Mutko said. "And it cannot be stopped with administrative levers and we are not going to act so."
Speaking about FC Rubin Kazan’s Turkish midfielder Gokdeniz Karadeniz, the minister said, "The man has been playing for one of the leading clubs (Karadeniz has been in Rubin since 2008 - eds. TASS) and is loyal to football - what questions should we ask? Being a leading player, he is highly committed to the club."
Earlier, media reports said that Gokdeniz Karadeniz and Maksim Zhestokov clashed at FC Rubin’s football practice after Zhestokov’s remarks about the downing of the Russian bomber in Syria by Turkey.
"It is nonsense. This cannot happen and did not happen," the club’s Director General Ilgiz Fakhriyev said then.
The downing of Russian Su-24 bomber by Turkey
Relations between Russia and Turkey have been locked in a spat over the downing of a Russian Su-24M bomber on November 24 by the Turkish Air Force’s fighter jet. Ankara claims the bomber violated the Turkish air space in the area of the border with Syria. However, Russia’s Defence Ministry has said the Su-24M plane stayed exclusively over the Syrian territory and "there was no violation of the Turkish air space."
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Turkey’s attack will have "serious consequences" for the two countries’ relations. Putin said Ankara’s attack against the Russian plane, which took part in Russia’s antiterrorism operation in Syria and did not present a threat to Turkey, was a "stab in Russia’s back" delivered by terrorists’ accomplices.