Football not just football again after Istanbul massacre

Football not just football again after Istanbul massacre

Football not just football again after Istanbul massacre

AFP photo

Football is once again not just football in the aftermath of a bomb attack near Istanbul’s Vodafone Arena stadium and a simultaneous one just a few hundred meters soon after a Beşiktaş-Bursaspor league game. 

Beşiktaş Chairman Fikret Orman said in a sentimental statement that the team, “with martyrs in its history,” will not leave the ground to terrorist “dogs,” adding that he had canceled seasons tickets for a Ziraat Turkey Cup game against Kayserispor on Dec. 14, so that all tickets sold will produce revenue that will go directly to the families of policemen who died in the blast. 

Tunç Uncu, an employee at Beşiktaş’s official store, Kartal Yuvası, and Vefa Karakurdu, a police chief responsible for security at the stadium and a fan and member of the club, were among the victims. 

The name of an iconic hill near the stadium, “Beleştepe” (Free Hill), from where fans without tickets used to be able to see half of the pitch, has been renamed “Martyrs Hill” by officials. 

Messages of condolence poured in from all other clubs as well as the Turkish Football Federation (TFF). 

Galatasaray and Gaziantepspor players gave carnations to riot police officers before the start of their game on Dec. 11, while a minute of silence was also observed before the kick-off.        

Galatasaray’s Yasin Öztekin found the back of the net in the 12th minute and immediately rushed to officers on the sidelines, giving two of them a big hug.

Pundit Mehmet Demirkol said on broadcaster NTV that it was a photo not to be forgotten.

Many current and former international players such as Arsenal’s Mesut Özil, Antalyaspor’s Samuel Eto’o, former Fenerbahçe star Alex de Souza, Fener’s Moussa Sow and former Colombian international and Galatasaray goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon condemned the terror attack with messages from social media as well.      

According to an official statement by Spain’s La Liga, a minute of silence will be observed ahead of games in Spain’s toptier games. 

The symbolic arch of Wembley Stadium in London was also lit in red in solidarity with the victims. 

Real Madrid Spanish international Sergio Ramos said he was “very affected by the Istanbul news. My thoughts and affection [are] with the families of the victims; my thoughts are with Istanbul.”

Turkish internationals who are playing in other countries like Arda Turan at Barcelona and Gökhan Töre at West Ham United shared messages of condolences. 

Beşiktaş fans will march to their home stadium Vodafone Arena, which was the scene of the deadly attack, on Dec. 12 at 7:03 p.m. to commemorate the victims. 

Angry crowds that hit the streets of other cities after the attack were carrying the Black Eagles’ Black and White flags in addition to Turkish flags. 

Fans of archrivals Beşiktaş and Bursaspor exchanged warm messages on social media, saying that “we’re at odds, but were not sworn enemies.”