Historic Euroleague Final Eight derby marred by crowd trouble
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Galatasaray center Tina Charles (L) stands as fireworks are lit during the team’s Euroleague Women Final Eight game against archrival Fenerbahçe in Istanbul. AA photoFenerbahçe beat archrival Galatasaray 75-67 to secure a major advantage on the road to Sunday’s Euroleague Women Final on March 29, but the game at Istanbul’s Abdi İpekçi Arena was marred by incidents off the court.
Fenerbahçe gave a fantastic second-half performance to maintain its unbeaten run in the top women’s basketball competition in Europe.
The win left Fenerbahçe alone with Rivas Ecopolis on top of Group A and saw Galatasaray lose its chance to advance to the Sunday’s final.
Fenerbahçe and Rivas were scheduled to play in a winner-takes-all match on Friday night. The winner of the game would advance to the Final to meet star-studded Spanish side Ros Casares Valencia, who has already won Group B, over the likes of Russian duo Spartak Moscow and UMMC Ekaterinburg and Wisla Krakow.
While group winners will meet in the final, the runner-up teams of both groups will participate in a third-place playoff and third-placed teams will play against each other in the fifth-place playoff on April 1.
Galatasaray’s game against Beretta Famila Schio of Italy was to decide the third-place team of the Group A.
Thursday’s game was a special event, with the country’s top two women’s basketball teams battling for survival on the European stage. The game itself was a thrilling event worthy of the country’s fiercest sports rivalry and it broke the Final Eight attendance record with 8,574 supporters at the Abdi İpekçi Arena, according to the organization’s website.
However, the positive spots were marred by crowd trouble between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe fans. Fireworks were lit and debris was thrown onto the court several times during the game, becoming all the more heated after the final buzzer.
The scenes were familiar for any sports event in which the two teams come face to face, but there have been efforts to prevented such events lately with strict rules. On a number of occasions in recent years no visiting fans have been allowed at matches between the two teams in the football league, and just small number of visitors have been allowed in to basketball and volleyball games. March 29 was an exception, as it was part of an international competition.
“It is usually said that everyone missed those days when the stadiums were filled by equal portions from each team,” NTV Spor basketball pundit İsmail Şenol said yesterday. “But after that game, we all saw that 50/50 fans are a distant dream for Turkish sports.”
Eurosport quoted Euroleague pundit Jeff Taylor as saying the game “came pretty close” to being halted due to the events.
Sunday’s four-game pack starts with the seventh-place playoff at 1 p.m. After the fifth-place playoff at 3:30 p.m. and third-place playoff at 6 p.m., the final will be played at 8:45 p.m. at the Abdi İpekçi Arena.