MOSCOW, February 19. /TASS/. Russia’s non-governmental sports movement VSporte (In Sports) has addressed the president of Moscow’s football club Lokomotiv, Olga Smorodskaya, with a demand for lifting disciplinary punishment from midfielder Dmitry Tarasov.
Lokomotiv played the first match in the Europa League round of 32 in Istanbul last Tuesday, which ended in the hosts’ 2-0 win. After the final whistle Lokomotiv’s midfielder Tarasov pulled off his T-shirt to reveal another one with an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the caption reading The Most Polite President. Tarasov told the media later he had no intention of staging any provocations. The Union of European Football Associations on Wednesday opened a disciplinary case against Tarasov. According to media reports that followed shortly afterwards the club fined Tarasov €300,000.
"We believe that Lokomotiv should not punish its player for this gesture of patriotism! It is just inconceivable a Russian team funded by the state-run company Russian Railways RZD punishes a Russian athlete for love of the Motherland. Lokomotiv should support its player, protect him and prove that he is right," the message runs.
The initiative was supported by some Russian athletes: Batu Khasikov (multiple kick-boxing champion, executive producer of a TV sports channel), Vladimir Minayev (kick-boxing champion, mixed martial arts fighter), Rasul Mirzayev (combat sambo wrestling world champion, mixed martial arts fighter) and Yulia Berezikova (Thai boxing champion, Russia’ jiu-jitsu champion, boxer, mixed martial arts fighter).
The message from the VSporte NGO was supported by Maria Kozhevnikova (State Duma member, public figure and actress).