‘Tape wars’ hit Fenerbahçe as chair slams former coach
Ersun Yanal quit his post on Aug. 9 amid reported anger from Yıldırım that players were given time off despite lackluster preseason performances.Istanbul club Fenerbahçe is no stranger to scandals; however, the latest incident that followed the resignation of coach Ersun Yanal marks a new low in the history of Turkish football.
Yanal’s forced resignation from the club has gone beyond a simple management decision, with the release of a secretly taped dressing room video and Fenerbahçe chairman Aziz Yıldırım’s personal attack on the former Turkish national team coach.
“The man [Yanal] was not training the team, he decided on the training schedule based on [appointments with] his lady friends,” Yıldırım was quoted as saying Aug. 12 in daily Milliyet. “He is obsessed with computers and statistics, so I have a computer here, too. Computers don’t bring titles; trophies come with teamwork.”
Yıldırım’s remarks came around the same time a secretly recorded tape was leaked to the Internet. In the voice recording, a man reported to be Yanal talks to a group of players in the dressing room. “Come to training whenever you want, I really don’t care,” the voice in the recording, which was first published on YouTube, says.
“I have already given up everything. I’m ready to leave today or tomorrow. I simply don’t care, I have not come [to this point] with Fenerbahçe and I will not go with Fenerbahçe. I’m sorry, but I don’t give a f***,” the man in the leaked record says.
Yanal quit his post on Aug. 9 amid reported anger from Yıldırım that players were given time off despite lackluster preseason performances.
“It’s impossible to maintain my job in these circumstances as a head coach,” Yanal, whose contract was extended for two years in May after winning the Turkish Super League title, said in a statement to Anadolu Agency.
Fenerbahçe named İsmail Kartal, who has been serving as the assistant coach since 2010, three seasons under Aykut Kocaman and one under Yanal, as its new coach Aug. 12.
Yıldırım, in his interview, also criticized the way Yanal parted ways with the club.
“There is a proper way for everything. If you are considering resigning, you come to us and inform us first,” Yıldırım told daily Milliyet. “He had an appointment with [club spokesman] Mahmut Uslu hours after his statement to the media. He should have come and told us his decision at that meeting.”
'Players wanted to meet'
Şansal Büyüka, the head of the Turkish top-flight broadcaster Lig TV, wrote in his column at daily Milliyet Aug. 11 that Yanal’s relations with the players led to the his departure from Fenerbahçe. The players had convened some time in last season and harshly criticized Yanal to chairman Yıldırım, according to Büyüka.
“Apart from Alper [Potuk], Caner [Erkin] and moderate [Dirk] Kuyt, every player had said [their piece]. All of them complained about Yanal,” the veteran pundit wrote, saying the players found Yanal hard to communicate with.
Yıldırım admitted such a meeting took place. “The players wanted to meet, I told them to inform their coach and then met them,” the chairman said. “Do 25 people say exactly the same lie? They said ‘he [Yanal] says hello in the morning, ignores us in the afternoon, he does not talk to anyone.’ But nobody asked me to fire the coach, they wanted him to show some love and respect and be a leader to the team.”
Fenerbahçe played Spanish club Sevilla in a friendly in Copenhagen on Aug. 2 and lost 2-0.
Yıldırım made another salvo on Yanal’s private life, claiming he gave the players two-and-a-half days off after a friendly game in Copenhagen and booked a room for himself and “his lady friend.”
“He allowed the team to tour the city, what would have happened if a fight broke out?” Yıldırım said. “The same day, he went to a café with a manager and his lady friend. When the players see him at the café, Yanal tells them to sit down, but they say there is a game the next day and leave for the hotel. He gave two-and-a-half days off to the players and booked a room for himself and his lady friend. [Moussa] Sow went to France, [Michal] Kadlec went to his home country. [Samuel] Holmen left in a rented car. What kind of indiscipline is this? I immediately canceled the break and called all of the players to Istanbul.”
Yıldırım said he was disappointed in Yanal. “He did not have any success here, the players got the success. Let’s look at the reasons he left the national team in the past, did he have any success there?” the chairman said.
Fenerbahçe, which is absent from the European competition due to ban imposed by UEFA on match-fixing charges, will play its first official match against archrival Galatasaray on Aug. 25 in the Turkish Super Cup.
Already embroiled in the country’s biggest-ever match-fixing scandal, in which Yıldırım was given a six-year prison sentence, suspended pending retrial, Fenerbahçe will again have to continue fighting both on and off of the pitch.