President of the Turkish Fenerbahce football club, Ali Koç said on Saturday that his club will not apologise to Ukraine, after the club's fans chanted the name of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a match against Dynamo Kyiv.
Fenerbahce lost 2-1 to Dynamo Kiev at home and were knocked out of qualification for the Champions League.
When Vitaly Buyalsky scored the opening goal for Dynamo Kyiv, he celebrated with the eagle gesture, in reference to Besiktas, Fenerbahce's main rival.
Fenerbahce fans deemed Buyalsky's gesture "provocative" and started chanting the name of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country launched a military campaign against Ukraine in late February 2022.
"We will not apologise to Ukraine. After the statements of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson and Ambassador, he should apologise to us," Koç said as reported by Turkish website CNN Turk.
However, Koç acknowledged at the same time that the crowd's cheering was "unnecessary" and "inappropriate."
"There are Russian and Ukrainian athletes in our country, we are not on the side of anyone, we are against war, we are on the side of humanity, our position is clear. We have a long history, 115 years of existence. I strongly reject the attempts of those who are trying to tarnish our history with cheers that lasted for twenty seconds and consider it an organised act;" he added.
The Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, had expressed his dissatisfaction with the chants and said "It is very sad to hear words of support from Fenerbahce fans for a Russian murderer and aggressor who bombed our country."
"I am grateful to the friendly Turkish people for their support for Ukraine and for thinking about the inappropriate behaviour of the masses" he added.
On Thursday, the European Football Association (UEFA), opened a prompt and disciplinary investigation into the "alleged behaviour" of the Turkish club fans.
Romanian Mircea Lucescu, coach of Dynamo Kyiv, refused to attend the customary press conference after the match in protest of the chants.
"With regard to the match, things went as we wanted, but we did not expect what the fans did, I did not expect such cheers, it is a pity" he said in a television interview.