Crowd trouble dominates Turkey’s political agenda

Crowd trouble dominates Turkey’s political agenda

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Crowd trouble dominates Turkey’s political agenda

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Football and hooliganism once again dominated Turkey’s political agenda yesterday, as some 48 people were detained in connection with their involvement in the incidents that broke out after the Fenerbahçe-Galatasaray game on May 12 were transferred to court. 

The 48 suspects who were sent to the Kadıköy courthouse following their detention by the police were transferred to court with a demand for their arrest on charges of “resisting the police,” “damaging public property” and “causing public indignation” in the wake of the Spor Toto Super League match at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium on May 12. The game ended in a goalless stalemate with Galatasaray winning the league title at the home stadium of its archrival. 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday expressed his strong disapproval of the after match violence and said fanaticism was what lay behind violence and intolerance in sports.

“Personally, I fly into a temper when I see how ladies curse even in a match that is closed to [male] spectators and open to women and children,” Erdoğan said during his party’s group meeting in Parliament. 
The 2011-2012 season is unfortunately remembered for violence, conflict and fighting rather than fair play, courtesy, sportsmanship and tolerance, he said, comparing the incidents in the game’s aftermath to terrorism.

“No one, of course, can dodge their responsibility in this merely by putting the blame on the spectators’ shoulders,” said the prime minister.
Hooliganism is not the particular preserve of any one club, and most clubs unfortunately have such hooligans, he said, adding that collective contests such as football yield either victory, draw or defeat. “You [have to] put up with all three of these,” he said.
Erdoğan also lashed out at the handing of the championship trophy to Galatasaray in the locker room with the lights turned off. “All this business ought to be done in the middle of the stadium, with honesty and chivalry. That is what we must see,” he said.
“All actions that border on fanaticism and every sort of partisanship yields big problems. It feeds division rather than union, and enmity rather than fraternity. Fanaticism leads to grave disasters in every field and creates irreversible problems,” Erdoğan added.
Meanwhile, the Turkish media has been debating the police’s alleged provocation of the incidents. Daily Radikal’s Bağış Erten claimed the police used “disproportionate violence” on the fans, while columnist Cengiz Çandar dismissed claims that Fenerbahçe fans were provoked by the police’s “excessive and unnecessary use of force” on the fans.
Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç also said there was no confusion or uncertainty over the implementation of the law pertaining to violence in sports, adding that the government would introduce new efforts to inform spectator groups about the law over the summer.
Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), also cautioned against associating the “ugly and dangerous” incidents that occurred on Saturday with the Fenerbahçe club. Turkish football is undergoing intensive care and still needs time to recover, he said.
“What is truly vexing ... is that sports clubs that have won the hearts and support of millions of our people have ended up at the center of [these] debates,” Bahçeli said.