Large Turkish football sponsor quits backing game
Fed up with violence, tension, poor attendance, a much-debated e-ticket system and many other problems, one of Turkey’s largest football sponsors withdraws from the game.Yıldız Holding, one of the largest sports sponsors in Turkey, has announced that it will withdraw from backing football, citing major excuses that also reveal the frustrating state of the beautiful game in the country.
Murat Ülker, chairman of Yıldız, which has poured around $215 million into football, including the national team, over the past nine years, said in a letter to the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) that violence, fighting and tension have become associated with the game. The brand value of football has dramatically decreased and matches have lost their attractiveness, with stadiums being empty, Ülker noted, adding that the overall atmosphere did not match with the concept of fair play.
“I have to let you know that unfortunately, today it has become meaningless to support teams or games thanks to such a fall in interest and value,” he said to the TFF.
Passolig, a newly introduced and much debated e-ticket system, also received its share of Ülker’s pessimistic criticism, who said in an interview published on daily Habertürk on Jan. 14 that a rather more flexible ticket system could have been chosen instead.
“No one wants their information to be collected, even by the state; this is disturbing,” he said.
Many fan groups have boycotted the practice, which has added to the low attendance numbers.
“It is impossible to not admire the spectators in the U.K. or Germany. I am very sad for the country,” the daily quoted him as saying.
“I went to a game in the U.K. recently and the atmosphere was great. This is what we cannot find in Turkey. We should not block the joy from the fans,” he said, calling for more tolerance.
The chairman also criticized a recent code change that allows teams to fill half their squads with foreign players. “They say that any team can go on the pitch with 11 foreign players. This is illogical. What will the Turkish kids do then?” he asked.
“When we became a sponsor, what we had in mind was the development of Turkish football, raising new players and success in Europe and the world. However, at the end of the day, we could not find what we were looking for,” he said.
Besides the TFF, Yıldız supports Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray in football under its giant food brand Ülker.
It also lends support to many other organizations.
Within the scope of UEFA’s Grasroots project, Ülker and the TFF have helped 272,000 children take part in practices in special “football villages” or organizations since 2007, as dozens of girls and boys raised under the project have become professionals.
Ülker spends around 60 million Turkish Liras on sports sponsorships every year.