Female hooligan fuels question on ‘ban’ of women supporters

Female hooligan fuels question on ‘ban’ of women supporters

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Female hooligan fuels question on ‘ban’ of women supporters

Bursaspor’s Spor Toto Super League match against Galatasaray at the Bursa Atatürk Stadium on Jan 28, 2011, was only watched by women and children after a ruling by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF). DHA photo

A female Bursaspor fan earned the unwanted and unofficial title of Turkey’s first female football hooligan after being detained for lighting fireworks during a game. 

The fan, who was identified by her initials of A.T. by local media, was questioned by the police for her failure to abide by Article 6222 of the Penal Code, the Law on Preventing Violence and Disorder in Sports. 

Ironically, the fan’s negative behavior came on a night her team was playing a game “behind closed doors” due to prior trouble. 

Bursaspor played last weekend’s Spor Toto Super League game against Galatasaray in front of women and children only. According to a decision by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) at the start of the season, teams hit with bans of playing behind closed doors would be allowed to let women and children under the age of 12 in. 

Female hooligan fuels question on ‘ban’ of women supporters

DHA photo

Seeing the glass half full, it was a fair decision to give the testosterone-filled atmosphere of Turkish stadiums a woman’s touch. 

Frankly, the first imposition of the new rule was nothing but a success: Some 40,000 female Fenerbahçe fans created some of the most spectacular scenes Turkish football has ever seen when they filled Istanbul’s Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium against Manisaspor.

That was the first time Fenerbahçe was playing in front of its fans in the new season after being subject to a gripping match-fixing case. The majority of the Fenerbahçe fans were championing the idea the club was innocent and that they were victimized, so responding with filled stands was a perfect way of showing it. 

It was true, the chirping of a crowd instead of the usual roar felt like a fresh breath of air to the national football’s suffocating scene. 

However, what felt good when it was a one-time thing proved to have several downsides when repeated. On top of everything, titling the imposition a “ban” cannot be a positive thing – especially in a society where women are yet to sustain their equal position to men. Even naming is problematic: The literal translation of the media reports in the subject is “The next game of a given club will be without spectators,” since the word used is “seyircisiz” in Turkish, meaning “no spectators.” And in the second phrase of the reports it is said that women and children will be able to watch the game – creating a linguistic and tacit sub-plot that “women cannot be spectators like men are.” 

Maybe it is time the TFF thinks about equality and how to make the games attractive and fun for anyone. 

Actually, what A.T. did was perfect in that sense: Leaving aside the dubiousness of how lighting up fireworks at a stadium can be subject to a crime worth being detained, she showed that women do not have to contribute a flowerlike nicety to the game as they are expected to do so by authorities. They can be as angry as any other man if they want to. 

Earlier this month, apparently inspired by the Turkish way, Ajax asked the Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) if it could play its cup tie against Alkmaar in front of women and children instead of empty seats due to a ban. 

However, the KNVB turned down the request on women, saying it clashed with Dutch equality laws, but added that children could attend the game. 

So maybe it is time the TFF thinks about equality and how to make the games attractive and fun for anyone. Creating an atmosphere in which every woman, man and child can come and enjoy should be the TFF’s priority, not remembering that women can be a part of the game in times of suspension.