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TURKEY > Super Final is doomed to turn into ‘Super Scandal’

Hürriyet Daily News

Only two matches into the Super Final signals that the post-season of the Spor Toto Super League will have more controversy, tension, violence in weeks to come

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Galatasaray players celebrate their second goal, scored by Aydın Yılmaz, against Beşiktaş during the two teams’ Spor Toto Super League playoff game. However, the opening week of the playoffs is likely to remembered with crowd troubles and a racism claim. DHA photo

Galatasaray players celebrate their second goal, scored by Aydın Yılmaz, against Beşiktaş during the two teams’ Spor Toto Super League playoff game. However, the opening week of the playoffs is likely to remembered with crowd troubles and a racism claim. DHA photo

Çetin Cem Yılmaz Çetin Cem Yılmaz cetincem.yilmaz@hdn.com.tr

With a number of ugly scenes in the weekend’s two games, the first week of the Super Final shows that it might as well become a “Super Scandal.”

The Spor Toto Super League’s newly-implemented post-season playoff system was supposed to offer 12 big games in the space of six weeks, bringing together the “big four” clubs of Turkish football history. However, the first two matches showed that it may bring just too much tension for the country to handle, not to mention that it is unlikely to provide the four-horse race that the bosses of Turkish football were contemplating.

The opening of the championship playoffs was a fiasco to begin with. The first game of the stage, the Beşiktaş vs. Galatasaray derby, was postponed due to heavy rain, leaving some 25,000 waiting spectators to get soaked under rain. They had already had to endure a tortuous music and dance choreography performance on the pitch to mark the start of the Super Final.

Racism claims mar the opening game

After that game was rescheduled to Monday, it fell to the Fenerbahçe vs. Trabzonspor match to open the stage. The meeting between the top two teams from last season was already expected to be a tense event, especially with the two clubs being involved in the ongoing match-fixing investigation. Both insist that the other is the real one to blame.

There was no crowd tension, thankfully, but the game was still marred by the ugliest of events, with Trabzonspor’s Ivorian midfielder Didier Zokora claiming he was racially abused by Fenerbahçe’s Emre Belözoğlu. The “problem child” of Turkish football initially admitted that he had said some words, but that the two had sorted it out on the pitch. However, Emre had to call a press conference on April 16 to deny that he had racially insulted Zokora. In a ridiculous move, Emre had Nigerian teammate Joseph Yobo at the conference to stand by him as well.

Rock bottom

It all hit rock bottom in the evening, though, when Galatasaray beat Beşiktaş in a tense atmosphere at Beşiktaş’ İnönü Stadium. In a game at which no away fans were allowed, according to this year’s Turkish Football Federation practice, Beşiktaş fans increasingly singled out referee Hüseyin Göçek and the couple of Galatasaray fans present.

Felipe Melo was slightly offside for his first goal, while there were a couple of even more debatable calls, especially for a second yellow card that was not shown to Emmanuel Eboue. The Ivory Coast international is not a loved figure among Beşiktaş fans, since he is believed to have “exaggerated” the objects thrown from the stands during the two teams’ first meeting at İnönü. On Monday, again, Eboue took too much time to take a throw-in to make sure the referee was seeing the rain of objects. It could be considered slightly naive, but it in no way warranted what a Beşiktaş fan did in reaction, when one ran onto the pitch to approach Eboue, before falling over a few meters before reaching the defender. Still, this was not the only pitch invasion. More than 20 hooligans ran onto the pitch on different occasions on Monday, in what will be remembered as a shameful night for Beşiktaş fans. It is likely to force a ban that will have the team play behind closed doors for the remainder of the season.

And that was only week one of the playoffs. We are yet to see how Trabzonspor fans will welcome a Fenerbahçe side who they believe to have stolen their title by fixing matches, or how Fenerbahçe fans will react when fierce rival Galatasaray comes to their stadium as champions. With so much tension, anger and hatred, the Super Final looks bound to become a Super Scandal in the coming weeks.

April/18/2012

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