Fenerbahçe turns league game into anti-gov’t rally

Fenerbahçe turns league game into anti-gov’t rally

Fenerbahçe turns league game into anti-gov’t rally

Fenerbahçe beat Kayserispor 5-1 to end the year on top of the league. CİHAN photo

Fenerbahçe fans chanted slogans against the Turkish prime minister and commemorated a killed protester in turning their last Spor Toto Super League game of the year into an anti-government rally on Dec. 29.

The Yellow Canaries beat Kayserispor 5-1 to end the year on top of the league, but the game will be remembered for its slogans, rather than its goals.

Fenerbahçe fans chanted “Hırsız [thief] Tayyip Erdoğan” during the game in a reference to the ongoing corruption investigation, which has rocked the Turkish political scene. Two ministers’ sons and a state-bank owner are among the high-profile arrests. Erdoğan has repeatedly rejected the corruption claims, saying the investigation is a dark plot to oust him from power.

The fans also chanted a song devoted to Ali İsmail Korkmaz, a protester who died after being beaten by a group of plainclothes officers and civilians during the Gezi Park protests in Eskişehir.

“Just at 19, a free world in his dreams, the striped jersey that he kissed will live on in his memory,” said the chant for Korkmaz, who was a Fenerbahçe fan. “Ali İsmail Korkmaz, Fenerbahçe will not be destroyed.”

Anti-government protests have been regular this season, with especially Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş and Galatasaray fans, who unusually joined forces during the summer’s street rallies as “Istanbul United,” chanting “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance” during football matches. The chant was frequently used in the Gezi Park protests, which turned into nationwide anti-government rallies following a heavy-handed police crackdown on a peaceful sit-in against a central park renovation plan. Fans have been singing the chant in the 34th minute of their home games.

The slogan was adapted to “Everywhere is bribery, everywhere is corruption” after the corruption probe was made public with police raids on Dec. 17.

Apart from the anti-government protests, it was a festive night for Fenerbahçe, which ended the year with a victory and a comfortable eight-point margin ahead of second-place Galatasaray.

Goals from Cristian Baroni, Emmanuel Emenike, Mehmet Topal, Moussa Sow and Caner Erkin clinched the win for Fenerbahçe, which took its points tally to 41.

Defending champion Galatasaray is on 33 points, third-placed Kasımpaşa has 31 points while Beşiktaş and Sivasspor are on 29 points.

The second half of the Spor Toto Super League will start when Kasımpaşa hosts Kardemir Karabükspor on Jan. 24, 2014.