Fans face ‘organized crime’ charges for violence on football pitch
ANTALYAProsecutors in the Mediterranean province of Antalya have ordered the detention of 72 fans who have allegedly been involved in violence on charges of “organized crime” during a game between Göztepespor and Eskişehirspor on June 4 to qualify for the top-tier football league.
Security forces and clubs have been struggling to end football violence, but charging fans with “organized crime” for violence at the stadium is a rare practice in Turkey.
Some 55 suspects were detained on Aug. 18 in a coordinated police operation in İzmir, the hometown of Göztepespor, and Eskişehir in Central Anatolia, along with Istanbul, Aydın, and Mardin.
Police examined hours of security footage to mark 46 suspects of violence and 26 others for vandalizing public property.
Prosecutors pressed charges for “organizing to commit crime,” “holding dangerous substances without permission,” and “destructing public property,” adding that the acts were aimed against the public order and were “motivated to trigger indignation.”
Police also took legal action against 1,896 people for entering the stadium without a ticket. Administrative probes were launched for 227 police officers and private security guards for negligence.
Sources said a second wave of detentions may begin after the examination of the rest of the surveillance footage.
Göztepe became the third team to advance to the Spor Toto Super League with a 4-3 win over Eskişehirspor in a penalty-shootout on June 4 at the Antalya Stadium. The first half ended scoreless but teams had to play more than 45 minutes because fans threw torches at the field shortly after the kick off, causing an extra 17 minutes of action. Police later remarked that some fans put torches inside loaves of bread to imitate sandwiches. Göztepe fans stormed the pitch and celebrated with their team following the result.
Violence was once again on the pitch when defending champion Beşiktaş clashed with Atıker Konyaspor, last season’s cup winner at the Turkish Super Cup on Aug. 6 in the Black Sea province of Samsun.
Brawls erupted after the match when the fans of both teams, mainly from the winner Konya, burst onto the pitch.
Beşiktaş winger Ricardo Quaresma made headlines in many countries for playfully handing the referee a knife thrown onto the pitch. Beşiktaş players were stuck on the pitch filled by unfriendly Konya fans.
Konyaspor Head Ahmet Şan said their fans were “provoked” by Beşiktaş fans’ banner supporting two educators who have been on hunger strikes for over 150 days, with authorities accusing the duo for being members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).
Detention warrants have been issued for a total of 17 people for opening the banner.