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Fenerbahce fans under fire for 'Putin' chants during match against Ukrainian side

Uefa launches disciplinary investigation after supporters sing Russian leader's name at match against Dynamo Kyiv in Istanbul
Fenerbahce fans cheer for their team before a Uefa Europa League match against Zenit St Petersburg in Istanbul on 12 February 2019 (AFP)

Fans of Turkish football club Fenerbahce are being investigated by Uefa for chanting Russian President Vladmir Putin's name during a match against Ukraine's Dynamo Kyiv in Istanbul. 

Turkish supporters sang the name of the Russian leader, who launched an invasion of neighbouring Ukraine in February, after Kyiv's Vitaly Buyalskyi celebrated scoring a goal in a European Champions League qualifying match on Wednesday evening.

Uefa, European football's governing body, confirmed to Middle East Eye that it has started a disciplinary investigation into the "alleged misbehaviour" by the fans. 

The match ended with a 2-1 win for the Ukrainian team, who advanced on aggregate to the next qualifying stage. 

The chants were criticised by the Kyiv's manager and Ukrainian officials. 

"I didn't expect such chants, it's a pity," Dynamo Kyiv’s manager Mircea Lucescu said after the match. 

The Ukrainian team has been based outside the country since Russia's invasion, with the first leg against Fenerbahce having taken place in the Polish city of Lodz.

"It is very sad to hear the words of support from the supporters of Fenerbahce in favour of the Russian murderer and aggressor who bombed our country," tweeted Vasyl Bodnar, Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey. 

"I am grateful to the friendly [Turkish] people for their support and for their consideration of the inappropriate actions of the fans."

Ukrainian foreign affairs spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said on Thursday: "The Armed Forces defeated Putin on the Turkish field 2-1. We advise Turkish fans to be on the winning side."

Turkey as a mediator 

After the war broke out, Fifa, the world's governing football body, and Uefa made a joint statement suspending the Russian national team and clubs from international football.

Uefa also stripped Russia's Saint Petersburg team of hosting rights for the 2022 Champions League final and cancelled its €40m ($45m) a year sponsorship deal with Russian energy company Gazprom.

In April, Fenerbahce participated in a "Global Tour for Peace" friendly match against Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk in Istanbul, with all proceeds going to victims of the war. 

While officially condemning Russia's invasaion, Ankara has kept an open door to both Moscow and Kyiv and played an active role as a mediator in the conflict

Last week, Turkey and the UN brokered a grain deal in Istanbul between Russia and Ukraine that should release an estimated 22 million tonnes of wheat and other crops.

Days earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Putin in Tehran during a trilateral meeting between Russia, Turkey and Iran.