Doğan bids to dethrone Demirel after 20 years

Doğan bids to dethrone Demirel after 20 years

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Doğan bids to dethrone Demirel after 20 years

Turgay Demirel

Elections for the chairmanship of the Turkish Basketball Federation will be held today, with Ali Doğan bidding to take over from Turgay Demirel, who has occupied the top spot for two decades.

Doğan, a former Ülkerspor chairman, has the backing of the top four Turkish basketball clubs, meaning that he stands a solid chance to dethrone Demirel at today’s election at the Rixos Hotel in Ankara.

Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş, the big three clubs in Turkish sports, have openly announced their support for Doğan, along with Anadolu Efes, the most successful basketball club of the country.

Fenerbahçe Basketball Club manager Semih Özsoy yesterday announced that the club’s delegates would vote for Doğan.

“The decision day has arrived,” Özsoy told the Anatolia News Agency about the election. “Turgay Demirel has made important service to Turkish basketball, and we thank to him. [But] our candidate is Ali Doğan and we will support him.”

Time for change
Anadolu Efes announced its support in a statement.

“As a club that has been serving basketball for 40 years, we believe the time for change has come in the administration of Turkish basketball,” the statement read. “We would like to announce that we support Ali Doğan, who we believe will stand at the same distance from al the clubs and promises a transparent administration.”

Doğan said the support of the big clubs echoed a will to change.

“Basketball’s important actors, and clubs who represent 90 percent of Turkey, support [me in the elections],” Doğan told Anatolia News Agency. “They are not happy with this administration.”

Doğan’s platform includes forming a Union of Clubs between the Beko Basketball League teams to give them the right to decide in key issues, along with founding a national high school league and boosting the Women’s Basketball League by finding it a sponsor. Also Doğan says he would leave the men’s national team’s managing duties to Aydın Örs, a former coach at Efes and the former general manager at Fener.

Demirel, who has been at the helm during Turkish basketball’s remarkable rise of the last two decades, says that he plans to put Turkey in the top three in world basketball.

“Everyone knows how far Turkish basketball has come in the last 20 years,” Demirel told Anatolia News Agency. “We aim to make Turkey one of the most important three basketball countries, up there with the United States and Spain.”

Demirel seeks sixth term in the hot seat

In his twenty years as chief of the federation, Turgay Demirel has overseen a significant rise in the profile of Turkish basketball.

Demirel’s five terms saw basketball cement its place as the second most popular sport in the country after football and also become a lucrative industry.

“When we started out in 1992 we had a board of three people. Now we have 20 people and we are more professional. Everything has changed,” Demirel said during an interview with NTV Spor on Sept. 16.

During his period in charge, Turkish basketball, which was once considered an almost amateur sport, turned into an enterprise in which millions are invested.

Anadolu Efes, then known as Efes Pilsen, was a key factor in this rise, becoming the first Turkish team to win a continental trophy with the Korac Cup in 1996. Along with other companies investing in basketball, such as Ülker and Tofaş, Turkey’s top clubs - Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş - also gave more importance to the sport during the period.

Turkey won the silver medal in the EuroBasket 2001 and the World Championships in 2010, both in tournaments that it was hosting. The women’s national team managed to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games earlier this year as well.

The 55-year-old also served as Vice President at FIBA, basketball’s world governing body, between 2006 and 2010.

Doğan: The architect of clubs’ rebirth

Former Ülkerspor chairman Ali Doğan is best known for building the bridges between company-sponsored teams and Turkey’s more seasoned clubs.

Along with Fenerbahçe chairman Aziz Yıldırım, Doğan was among the names that masterminded the historic Fenerbahçe–Ülker merger in 2006 that changed the face of Turkish basketball.

Before the merger Anadolu Efes, (formerly Efes Pilsen), and Ülkerspor dominated the national basketball scene, while the “big three” of Turkish sport - Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş - trailed far behind. However, after the merger Fenerbahçe Ülker emerged as the dominant force in Turkish basketball. Galatasaray and Beşiktaş, themselves sponsored by Ülker sub-brands Cafe Crown and Cola Turka, also returned to being contenders. Doğan also briefly served as a government minister in 2002.