Fenerbahçe urges league suspension after attack

Fenerbahçe urges league suspension after attack

Fenerbahçe urges league suspension after attack

DHA Photo

Fenerbahçe football team called April 5 for the suspension of the national league championship in response to an armed attack on its team bus as players returned from a match.
"We consider that as long as this attack is not solved in a way that satisfies Fenerbahçe and public opinion, a suspension of the championship is inevitable," the Istanbul club said on its website.
"Blood ran and football was silenced. Finding and punishing the culprits is of vital importance for Fenerbahçe." 

An unknown assailant opened fire on Fenerbahçe’s team bus late April 4 in Trabzon’s Araklı district, leaving serious facial injuries to the vehicle’s driver in the latest incident to blight Turkish football.

The club was making its way toward Trabzon’s airport following a 5-1 Spor Toto Super League victory at nearby Çaykur Rizespor when an individual opened fire with a rifle at the entrance to Araklı at about 10:15 p.m., according to daily Hürriyet.

Driver Ufuk Kıran was reportedly struck by glass caused by bullets hitting the team bus’ windows, resulting in him losing control of the vehicle while proceeding along a viaduct. Serdal Kılıç, a team security official sitting next to Kıran, managed to press the brakes to prevent the bus from careening over the edge of the bridge.

Although shaken by the incident, no other Fenerbahçe players or officials suffered physical injuries in the attack.

Rifle found near scene where Fenerbahçe bus attacked

Interior Minister Sebahatin Öztürk has said a hand-made rifle and an empty case have been found near the spot where the Fenerbahçe bus came under fire, adding security forces were likely to be able to determine where the assailant was hiding.

“According to the information at hand, we have an empty case and a rifle without a serial number, deemed to be hand-made, found 100-150 meters away [from the scene]. We don’t know how many assailants there were, but [security forces] have approximately determined the place where they were situated,” Öztürk said.

The minister added an investigation is ongoing to determine whether there was any security negligence in the incident, despite the fact the bus was escorted by two security vehicles.

Öztürk also said there was no reason to suspend the league or cancel games over security concerns.

Security forces subsequently provided an armed escort to the team to Trabzon’s airport, where they boarded a private jet to return to Istanbul.

Supporters of Trabzonspor have displayed open hostility toward Fenerbahçe since the beginning of a July 3, 2011, scandal into alleged match-fixing involving Fenerbahçe. In the 2010-11 season, Fenerbahçe pipped Trabzonspor to the title on goal difference, but an investigation was subsequently opened into alleged match-fixing, and UEFA refused to permit Fenerbahçe to participate in the following season’s Champions League, inviting Trabzon in its place. Trabzonspor, however, was not declared the champion for the 2010-11 season, something that its supporters have continued to demand.

Fenerbahçe supporters and officials, meanwhile, allege that the match-fixing charges were fabricated by elements within the Gülen movement, which was an ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) until a 2013 corruption case.

Trabzonspor immediately condemned the armed attack. “It is impossible to describe this. As a club, we are not going to let this incident slide. We will do whatever it takes to ensure that this person or people [responsible for the shooting] are caught and handed over,” said club official Yakup Aslan.

“This is shameful for our city. This incident is not a Fenerbahçe-Trabzon fight,” he said. “You can be angry and you can shout, but many of us are friends. Supporters have to understand this. We don’t have a spat with Fenerbahçe. There’s the issue about the cup [from the 2010-11 season] – lawyers are looking into that.”

Fenerbahçe also expressed its outrage over the attack. “There’s nothing to say,” said Fenerbahçe official Mahmut Uslu. “Whoever is provoking these incidents and whoever has brought us to this point from July 3 [2011] has to answer for this. What did these [players] do? Soon they’ll set off a bomb.”

The incident was also condemned by other clubs, as well as senior government officials.

Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç, meanwhile, told NTV Spor that all options were currently on the table, including a possible postponement of the league.