Ukraine sports minister weighs in on Turkish fans’ Putin chants
Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadim Gutzeit has accused Fenerbahce fans of trying to psychologically intimidate Dynamo Kiev players during a recent Champions League qualifying match when they sang Russian President Vladimir Putin's name.
Gutzeit also claimed that, despite protests to the contrary from the Turkish club and their president, politics are now "100%" in sports.
In the aftermath of the 2-1 win for Ukrainian visitors Dynamo, UEFA launched an investigation into 'alleged misbehavior' from Fenerbahce fans.
When Dynamo midfielder Vitaly Buyalsky scored the opening goal, his celebration was deemed provocative by Fenerbahce fans and triggered them to chant the name of Russian leader Putin, as shown in widely-circulated social media footage.
Fenerbahce reacted to the development through a statement, the words of which were then reiterated by their president Ali Koc who refused to apologize to Ukraine and demanded that "sports and politics should not be intertwined."
Speaking to the Rada TV channel, however, Gutzeit showed that he clearly disagrees with this.
"The Olympic Charter states that sport is [kept] outside of politics," he accepted.
"But now, when the Russian Federation [began the military campaign] against Ukraine... Therefore, sport is now 100% in politics."
As for the chants, Gutzeit claimed they came as part of "psychological pressure on our footballers to make mistakes somewhere.
"But our footballers and the coaching staff did everything so that Dynamo won this confrontation," the minister said.
Fenerbahce official Koc has claimed that his club being punished for just "20 seconds" of chanting is "absolutely unacceptable," and demanded that were anyone to apologize, it should be the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's spokesperson and ambassador.
"Our armed forces beat Putin 2-1 on Turkish soil. We recommend Turkish fans to be on the winning side," the spokesperson tweeted after Dynamo's victory.
After being dumped out of Champions League qualification by the Ukrainians in extra time, Fenerbahce increased their chances of reaching the second-tier Europa League by beating Slovacko 3-0 in the first leg of their third-round qualifying tie this week.
Topping Sturm Graz 1-0 on Wednesday, Dynamo Kiev are still on course to compete in UEFA's elite club competition if they keep their lead in Austria next Tuesday.