Europa League can help Turkey-Russia crisis – Tekke
MOSCOW : Former Turkey international Fatih Tekke believes Europa League matches between Fenerbahce and Lokomotiv Moscow will help ease the political crisis between Russia and Turkey.
“Football is the game that unites people, nations, countries,” Tekke, who played with Russian clubs Zenit St Petersburg and Rubin Kazan, told Monday’s issue of Soviet Sport.
“I believe that the matches between the two clubs will help to mend the relations between our countries.” Turkey giants Fenerbahce and Lokomotiv face off in the Europa League last 32 as Moscow and Ankara experience their worst post-Cold War crisis after Turkey downed a Russian warplane on the Syrian border in November.
“Turkey and Russia are neighbouring countries. And I want to wish the two countries’ fans to show the entire world that we’re still friends. That we have respect to each other no matter what have happened,” Tekke said.
Tekke, 38, who won the 2007 Russian title, UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup with Zenit in 2008, expects ‘fair play’ to prevail in the potentially explosive encounters between Fenerbahce and Lokomotiv in February.
“Both teams have strong line-ups and I expect a tough but fair opposition in both of their Europa League encounters,” he added.