Sports minister joins Fethiyespor in criticism of Football Federation over ‘Great Atatürk’ t-shirts row
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Each Fethiyespor player wore a t-shirt with one big letter during the pre-match line-up againt Fenerbahçe at the Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium in Istanbul on Dec. 4. DHA photoSports minister and Fethiyespor chairman have both strongly criticized the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) for sending the second-tier club who eliminated Fenerbahçe in the Turkish Cup to the Professional Football Discipline Committee (PFDK) over t-shirts reading “Great Atatürk.”
“I can say clearly: Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is the founder of the Turkish Republic, a huge and common value for the Turkish society. His name cannot be described as a political message or something that can alienate people of each other,” Suat Kılıç told reporters on Dec. 7 during an event in Yalova. He added that the federation should refrain to make any divisive decision.
Earlier, Fethiyespor Chairman İsmail Öztürk expressed his dismay about the Federation’s decision to initiate disciplinary procedures against his club. “Those people who mix politics into this affair, don’t they know that everyone one lives in this country is a [supporter] of Atatürk?” İsmail Öztürk told Hürriyet, adding that they sole intention was to celebrate an historic moment at Fenebrahçe’s Şükrü Saraçoğlu stadium with a symbolic gesture.
“We wanted to commemorate Atatürk in this historic day. We categorically refuse that some may search a political [message] under this,” Öztürk said.
Each Fethiyespor player wore a t-shirt with one big letter during the pre-match line-up at the Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium in Istanbul. The 11 letters formed the word “Yüce Atatürk” (Great Atatürk) as the national anthem was played.
The TFF explained the decision to send the Mediterranean club to the disciplinary committee arguing that Atatürk had been used politically.
Out of the whole world, football fields are aimed to be places where only the game is played and watched. During their Turkish Cup match against Fenerbahçe, it was noted that Fethiyespor had appropriated for themselves values embraced by the nation for the purpose of sparking a debate,” a TFF statement issued on Dec. 6 said.
Minister warns TFF that decision can be attributed to gov’t
Kılıç urged the Football Federation to act with more sensitivity on the issue. “I think that more careful steps should be made about a statesman respected by the whole society and a common value as Atatürk,” Kılıç said pointing that although the federation was an independent body, any decision could be interpreted as connected to the political institutions.
“Otherwise, the decision may cause decision in the society which can be interpreted as a decision or step made by those who are governing the country.”
For his part, Fethiyespor Chairman thanked for the public support received on the issue, especially for the Fenerbahçe fans who proposed to gather money in case of the minnow club would be fined despite their club being surprisingly eliminated.
“We didn’t even think that we needed a permission on using Atatürk’s name. Can Atatürk be a political item? He is someone above politics,” Öztürk said.
The small act has almost overshadowed Fethiyespor's stunning 2-1 victory on Fenerbahçe’s cauldron Dec. 4, resulting with the ouster from the cup of the double title-holders. They will face in the fifth round another tough opponent, Eskişehirspor, to enter among the eight clubs who will access the group stages.