Holder Fener out, rivals in the Champions League
Fenerbahçe Universal will not be defending its title at the Champions League after CEV decided in favor of Galatasaray regarding the wild card applications from Turkish teams. Three Turkish teams will compete in the Champions League next season. Hürriyet photo
Holder Fenerbahçe Universal will not be defending its continental title at the Champions League after the European volleyball’s governing body, CEV, surprisingly gave the wild card to Galatasaray yesterday. CEV announced nine wild card placements after 15 clubs won direct qualification for the top-level European competition in women’s volleyball.
However, the decision set off shockwaves among fans of Fenerbahçe Universal, who finished second and third before winning the European title over the last three seasons.
The Fenerbahçe sports club did not issue a statement on the subject, while most comments from the team’s fans blamed the Turkish Volleyball Federation (TVF).
Speaking to NTV Spor, TVF chairman Erol Ünal Karabıyık dismissed the national volleyball governing body’s involvement in the issue, and cited the club’s arguments with the CEV staff during the Final Four in Baku, Azerbaijan earlier this year.
“CEV informed us that there were some rifts with the CEV supervisor during the Final Four,” Karabıyık said. “There was some disobedience of the Final Four rules, like not residing in the [pre-booked] hotel and some problems about the jersey colors.”
CEV board member Thorsten Endres confirmed that problems with Fenerbahçe Universal played a role in the decision, adding that the TVF was not responsible.
“CEV is the only [party] responsible for the rejection of Fenerbahçe’s wild card,” he told Turkish sports website Sportivi. “We would not bar Fenerbahçe from playing in the Champions League if it had played in the final but we made that call after seeing Fenerbahçe had some attitude [in Baku] challenging CEV authority.”
After the CEV Women’s Champions League was expanded from 20 to 24 teams, the number of spots allocated to Turkey was increased to three.
The Aroma Turkish Women’s Volleyball League champion Eczacıbaşı Vitra and runner-up Vakıfbank Türk Telekom won direct qualification to the Champions League.
The Galatasaray director of volleyball, Orkun Darnel, said the club was not aware of Fenerbahçe’s relations with CEV.
“We thought we had a chance when CEV made the expansion decision,” Darnel told A Haber. “We don’t know about Fenerbahçe’s relations with CEV.”
However, the Turkish media suggested that CEV had the perception that Fenerbahçe Universal would be subjected to downsizing at the club, while Galatasaray was starting a bigger investment, meaning that it would add more value to the competition.
Fenerbahçe did not sign new contracts with key players Yeon Koung Kim and Naz Aydemir at the end of the season.
“If there was justice in the wild card rule, no team would deserve to get it more than Fenerbahçe,” pundit Dağhan Irak wrote on website Eurosport Turkey. “But this decision was made on the presumption that Fenerbahçe is downsizing, while Galatasaray is growing. But Turkey had been given undeserved wild cards in the past when Fenerbahçe started making big investments.”