Lokomotiv footballer faces suspension over Putin picture

Moscow, Feb 17 (IANS) Russian football side Lokomotiv Moscow’s midfielder Dmitri Tarasov could be suspended for at least 10 games after flaunting a picture of the country’s president Vladimir Putin in a match against Turkey’s Fenerbahce.

Fenerbahce defeated Lokomotiv 2-0 in Istanbul on Tuesday in the first leg of the Europa League knockout stage. Tarasov lifted his shirt to show the Russian leader’s picture with the words “the most polite president” after the match.

“It’s my president. I respect him and decided to show that I’m always with him and prepared to give my support,” the 28-year-old player said after the match.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) on Wednesday opened disciplinary proceedings against Tarasov.

UEFA said in its statement that charges against Lokomotiv were opened for “Improper conduct of Lokomotiv player Dmitry Tarasov after the match.”

“Players must not reveal undergarments that show political, religious, personal slogans, statements or images, or advertising other than the manufacturer logo,” the statement added.

Under clause No. 7 of Article 14 of the UEFA disciplinary regulations, “all forms of political, ideological and religious propaganda” are prohibited.

Igor Lebedev, member of the Russian football union’s executive committee, has criticised Tarasov’s behaviour, indicating that it would be better if the player helped his side win 3-0 over the Turkish club in the second leg match to show his patriotism.

Relations between Russia and Turkey have been tense since Turkey brought down a Russian Su-24 jet near the Turkish border last November.

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