Fierce rivalry to be put to test as Euro meeting looms
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Galatasaray men’s team coach Mahmuti was subjected to flying debris from Fenerbahçe Ülker fans in a recent derby.The fiercest rivalry in Turkish sports is to be tested in March as a possible Fenerbahçe vs. Galatasaray Medical Park match-up looms in the EuroLeague Women Final Eight.
There are more than two months before the European women’s basketball’s top-level club competition to be held in Istanbul’s Abdi İpekçi Sports Hall, but it is almost certain the two Istanbul rivals will meet there.
Side by side
Galatasaray Medical Park is a fixture in the eighth final as the host team, while Fenerbahçe, the only unbeaten team in the tournament, is one of the hottest teams in the continent and cannot seem to be stopped from advancing to the round.
“In the Final Eight, fans will be in the stands, standing side by side for four days,” Ateş Bakan said in his column at daily Hürriyet’s website.
“We will see if the Turkish sport is rising on the shoulders of hate. We will see if our hatred for the opponents is bigger than our love for our own clubs. We will see on March 28. The serious part is that not only will we see it, but the whole world will too.”
The worries that fans’ often heated rivalry will create problems again mounted after Dec. 30, 2011’s Beko Basketball League men’s match between the two teams. The game at the Abdi İpekçi Sports Hall in Istanbul was only open to home team supporters, according to a decision by the Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF). But there was still trouble, with Fener fans throwing objects in the court and chanting abusive slogans against the visitors.
Following the game, coach Oktay Mahmuti condemned the fans’ behavior, saying that “hate went ahead of fandom.”