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UEFA fines Russian footballer €5,000 for his Putin T-shirt gesture

The head of the Russian Trade Union of Footballers says they were expecting a tougher penalty and they are glad that the story is finally over

MOSCOW, March 18. /TASS/. The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has given a €5,000 fine to FC Lokomotiv Moscow player Dmitry Tarasov who took off his team’s jersey revealing a T-shirt with the picture of Putin after a match in Turkey in mid-February, the UEFA press service said on Friday.

Russia’s midfielder Dmitry Tarasov has no objections at all to the UEFA penalty, Alexander Zotov, the head of the Russian Trade Union of Footballers, told TASS on Friday.

Following the final whistle in the first leg match of the UEFA Europa League Round of Last 32 between Lokomotiv and Fenerbahce, held at Sukru Saracoglu stadium in Istanbul on February 16, Russian club’s footballer Tarasov took off his team’s jersey revealing a T-shirt with the picture of Putin captioned "The most polite president."

"We have been expecting a tougher penalty," Zotov said in an interview with TASS. "I have just spoken with Tarasov over a telephone and also congratulated him with his birthday."

Tarasov is celebrating on Friday his 29th birthday.

"He is satisfied with the verdict," Zotov said. "We are glad that this whole story is finally over. We will be waiting for the games with Tarasov at the [2016 UEFA] Euro Cup."

"The incident is a good lesson not only for Tarasov, but for the rest of the players as well," Zotov said. "The football field should belong to the game of football only."

"I will say it once again that I am glad the whole story is over and the psychological pressure it had raised is now gone," he added.

According to earlier reports, Tarasov possibly faced a lengthy suspension from UEFA for his act. Some Russian media reported last month that Lokomotiv FC allegedly fined the midfielder €300,000 (almost $340,000) over the incident, but the Moscow club later denied the allegations.

February 16 match in Istanbul ended with the 2-0 Fenerbahce victory over Lokomotiv. Both goals were scored by Fenerbahce’s defensive midfielder Souza in the 18th and 72nd minutes of the match.

However, considering recently strained relations between Russia and Turkey, the match was remembered after Tarasov took off his jersey following the final whistle exposing a T-shirt with the picture of the Russian president in front of the Turkish arena’s packed spectators’ stands.

UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings in regard to Tarasov the following day citing organization’s regulations that: "Players must not reveal undergarments that show political, religious, personal slogans, statements or images, or advertising other than the manufacturer logo."

Unprecedented security measures were observed before, during and after Wednesday’s match in Istanbul. Only a single incident was reported during the event, when Fenerbahce’s fans hurled objects at a bus carrying Lokomotiv’s fans.

The incident took place before the match, when the bus arrived at the stadium, but Turkish police, which provided escort for Russian fans, promptly thwarted the assault and detained three fans of Fenerbahce football club.