Uefa have launched a disciplinary investigation against Fenerbahce, after some supporters of the Turkish club chanted Vladimir Putin’s name during a Champions League qualifier against Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday evening.
After a goalless first leg played in Lodz, Poland, the Ukrainian side went ahead in Istanbul through Vitaliy Buyalskyi in the 57th minute, shortly after Fenerbahce midfielder Ismail Yuksek was sent off. Buyalskyi’s celebration after scoring was met with chants of “Vladimir Putin” from sections of the home crowd.
Fenerbahce scored a late equaliser to take the game to extra time but Dynamo prevailed thanks to a 114th-minute winner by Oleksandr Karavaev. The result was overshadowed by the chants in support of the Russian president, which prompted a furious online backlash.
In a statement, Uefa said: “An ethics and disciplinary inspector will conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding alleged misbehaviour of Fenerbahce supporters” at the game, held at the Super Lig club’s Sukru Saracoglu stadium.
Vasyl Bodnar, the Ukrainian ambassador to Ankara, said on Twitter he was saddened by the chants but thanked those who stood against the “inappropriate actions” of the fans. “Football is a fair game. Dynamo Kyiv was stronger yesterday,” he added.
Bodnar added that it was “very saddening” to hear the reaction of the Fenerbahce fans at a time when civilians in Ukraine were dying in Russian attacks on the country. The Russian embassy declined to comment.
In a statement on Thursday, Fenerbahce said the chants made by “some” fans did not represent the club, its position, or its views, adding that it stood firmly against the war in Ukraine. The club went on to claim that the chants lasted only 20 seconds and were prompted by the “exaggerated” celebrations of some Kyiv players after the opening goal.
“Whatever the reason may be, we as the Fenerbahce Sport Club absolutely reject the reaction coming from parts of our stands,” the club continued, adding it was unfair to put blame on all its fans or the club for an act that “never represents our values.”
Turkey, a member of Natio, shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea and has good ties with both. It has been trying to mediate the war, and last week helped broker an accord between the warring parties to resume Kyiv’s grain exports.
Ankara has repeatedly said it will not abandon its relations with either country due to strategic and commercial reasons, but has criticised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called on Moscow to stop the conflict. It has also provided military support to Kyiv and hosted peace talks.