Ukrainian soccer club calls out Turkish rival for going to Russia to play Gazprom-owned Zenit

Ukrainian soccer club Dynamo Kyiv has told Turkish rival Fenerbahce it had “blood on your hands” for going to Russia to play Zenit St. Petersburg in a preseason game

Graham Dunbar
Monday 10 July 2023 12:26 BST
Soccer Russia Fenerbahce
Soccer Russia Fenerbahce (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

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Ukrainian soccer club Dynamo Kyiv told Turkish rival Fenerbahce it had “blood on your hands” for going to Russia to play Zenit St. Petersburg on Sunday in a preseason game.

It is the latest dispute between two clubs who played each other in the Champions League qualifying rounds and Europa League last season, and could meet again within weeks in the Europa Conference League.

Dynamo posted a statement on its Instagram account with red splashes on the blue logo of Russian state energy giant Gazprom, the long-time owner and shirt sponsor of Zenit.

“The bloody money of Gazprom has eclipsed everything for you, left you without honor and conscience,” Dynamo said, targeting the storied Istanbul club.

Gazprom was dropped by UEFA as a Champions League and 2024 European Championship sponsor within days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine starting in February last year.

UEFA also removed all Russian teams from its competitions and stripped the country of hosting the 2022 Champions League final at Zenit’s home stadium in St. Petersburg, where Fenerbahce played Sunday.

“Nothing can justify this step” the Kyiv club wrote Sunday. “No money can compensate you for this shameful behavior, this trip to the killer without morals and human qualities.”

Fenerbahce said it accepted the invitation to Russia after hosting Zenit in Istanbul. The teams played a charity game in March to raise aid money several weeks after the earthquake in the Turkey-Syria border region.

One year ago, when Fenerbahce and Dynamo met in a Champions League qualifying round, fans in Istanbul chanted Vladimir Putin’s name after the Ukrainian team took the lead in a game it would go on to win.

Fenerbahce said then that the fans’ chant did not represent the club's views, but also suggested that “exaggerated gestures” by Dynamo players had served as provocation.

UEFA fined the Turkish club 50,000 euros ($55,000) for the incident. There were no similar disciplinary cases when the teams met twice more last season in the Europa League group stage, with Fenerbahce winning both games.

Dynamo and Fenerbahce will both play in qualifying rounds of the third-tier Europa Conference League in the next month and could possibly be drawn together in the group stage if they both qualify.

Dynamo cannot play in Ukraine in UEFA competitions for security reasons and last year hosted games in Poland.

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