Fenerbahçe takes on Greek Cypriot club in tense game
Fenerbahçe players warm up during a training session ahead of the AEL Limassol game. Fenerbahçe flew to Rhodes yesterday and stayed a few hours on the island before taking a flight to Greek Cyprus’ Larnaca Airport to take on Greek Cypriot club AEL Limassol in a Europa League Group C clash.Fenerbahçe will head to Greek Cyprus to take on AEL Limassol tonight in a Europa League game that has been marred by off-pitch issues.
While initial stories about a ban on waving Turkish flags at the ground have been denied, tensions remain high ahead of the Yellow Canaries’ first-ever match against a Greek Cypriot team.
The Istanbul club started its long road to Limassol yesterday due to diplomatic problems between the two countries. There are no direct flights from Turkey to Greek Cyprus, while passage from the Turkish Cypriot part of the island to the Greek part is also not permitted for Turkish citizens.
Fenerbahçe flew to Rhodes yesterday and stayed a few hours on the island before taking a flight to Greek Cyprus’ Larnaca Airport.
Last year, the Galatasaray women’s volleyball team was subjected to debris thrown from the stands during a game with Apollon Limassol, while there were similar attacks during a Pınar Karşıyaka men’s basketball team’s match against APOEL.
However, AEL Limassol Chairman Andreas Sofokleus played down the tension on Oct. 22.
“Politics should not be involved in sports. I hope the game will go on without any problems. We have no aim to prevent the flags of any nations that are officially recognized by the UEFA,” Sofokleus said, adding that AEL fans would only bring the team’s flags, not the Greek Cypriot flag. There will be no restrictions on the flags of UEFA-affiliated countries will not be banned, Sofokleus said. However, since the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not a member of European football’s governing body, no Turkish Cypriot flags will be allowed into the match.
More than 300 police officers will reportedly be on duty for the match, which has been declared a “high-risk game” by UEFA.
Besides the off-pitch issues, Fenerbahçe might have a hard time on the pitch, too. AEL is known for its home performances, urged on by the support of its fans.
The Greek Cypriot club has not lost in six European home games, winning five, since a 1-0 defeat by Dunajska Streda in the preliminary round of the Cup Winners’ Cup on Aug. 23, 1987. It has conceded only once at home in four European outings this season.
Against AEL, Fenerbahçe will rely on the performance it has displayed so far when traveling away in Europe this season. The Istanbul club has scored four goals on the road twice, winning 4-1 at Vaslui in the Champions League third qualifying round and then 4-2 at Borussia Mönchengladbach in its most recent Europa League game.
The game at Nicosia’s GSP Stadium will kick off at 10:05 p.m. and will be broadcast live by Star TV.