Tension mounts as Fener hosts Trabzon

Tension mounts as Fener hosts Trabzon

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Tension mounts as Fener hosts Trabzon

Fenerbahçe and Trabzon have been the two parties of off-pitch issues recently. AA photo

Games between Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor of Turkish football’s big four never lack thrill, but Sunday’s Spor Toto Super League clash between the two is likely to have heightened tensions.

Facing each other at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, the two teams will play out their rivalry, which was reignited during last season’s title chase and got even fiercer during the summer.

Fenerbahçe won out last season when the two teams were level on points and the title was decided by a single goal. Due to league regulations, the head-to-head record would be applied in case of equal points and Fenerbahçe got the edge. In the two teams’ first meeting in August 2010, it was a 3-2 victory for Trabzonspor. In the second match they played later that season, Fenerbahçe won 2-0 at home, leading to a one-goal superiority. Fenerbahçe went on to win the title and Trabzonspor finished second.

However, only six weeks after the title, a wide match-fixing investigation went public with the arrests of 31 football officials, players and club owners. Chairman Aziz Yıldırım and four members from Fenerbahçe were jailed pending trial, while Trabzon boss Sadri Şener was also a suspect.

In August, Fenerbahçe was barred from the Champions League upon a decision by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), and European football governing body, UEFA, decided to include Trabzonspor instead of the Istanbul team.

Most Fenerbahçe fans were infuriated following the decision, claiming that the whole investigation was a plot against their team. First they took to social media and then they took to the streets. There were several street protests in Istanbul’s Anatolian part, Fenerbahçe’s stronghold.

The tension appeared to wind down but it got fired up again this week. First, a group of Trabzonspor fans started an e-mail campaign saying that UEFA should act against Turkey, which was “showing signs that it would not punish match-fixers” following a court decision Dec. 12, when eight suspects were released from prison pending charges. It got even hotter when, on Dec. 16, Trabzonspor released a statement criticizing the TFF for “serving Fenerbahçe” following a three-game ban on Didier Zokora, ruling the player out of the clash.

So, this is the first time in months that the two teams’ rivalry will be carried to the pitch.