The good, the bad and the ugly from 12 months of Turkish sports
Stefan Martens ISTANBUL
Two Turkish teams played the final of the 2013-2014 Euroleague's Women competition, with Galatasaray beating their eternal rivals Fenerbahçe 69-58 with a magnificent game from their star Spanish guard Alba Torrens.From the highs of success on the hard court and some striking prowess from a little-known footballer named Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the incompetent and downright tragic, Turkish sports have produced several headlines transcending the mere athletic arena
Istanbul volleyball powerhouse Vakıfbank advances to final of ÇEV Women's Champions League
March 16, 2014
Vakıfbank might not have been able to repeat their success of 2012-13, when they claimed continental and global club supremacy, but they came pretty close, advancing once more to the final of the ÇEV Women's Champions League before being vanquished by Dinamo Kazan. Vakıfbank breezed past Igtisadchi Baku before edging upstart RC Cannes in the Playoffs Six. They then defeated compatriots Eczacıbaşı VitrA Istanbul before falling in the final to the Tatars.
Galatasaray roars to second straight wheelchair basketball title
May 4, 2014
In terms of continental domination, few can challenge Galatasaray’s men’s wheelchair team. The team hasn’t lost a domestic game since the 2010-11 season, and successfully defended its European title in May, finishing unbeaten for the second straight time in the competition. With the victory, Galatasaray now boasts five European titles, equaling it with the game’s other current powerhouse, RSV Lahn-Dill of Germany.
Arda collects the plaudits in pacing Atletico to improbable title
May 17, 2014
“Arda gave us football,” invoked Atletico coach Diego Simeone in September after Arda Turan, the best player Turkey has produced in a generation, scored to beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. “We need him,” added the trainer, perhaps the world’s most in-demand coach. But Arda’s real worth was proved through the grind of the 2013-14 La Liga and Champions League, when he paced his Atletico to a sensational domestic championship and was instrumental in getting them to within minutes of an even-more astounding Champions League title.
Özgür Korkmaz sends HDN community into raptures with unforgettable strike
June 7, 2014
The odds were stacked against the Hürriyet Daily News’ motley crew of editors, copy editors, page secretaries and interns when they lined up in a summertime football tournament for a brand-name sportswear company, but the naysayers didn’t count on center-forward Özgür Korkmaz ghosting in to score for HDN late in the second half, sending Daily News nation into pandemonium. Pity, though, that HDN had already conceded six in the first half, making the final 6-1 and resulting in elimination in the first game of the tourney. At least it was no Hungary vs. El Salvador circa 1982.
Turkey gets to participate in World Cup party thanks to referee
TV might be the closest Turkey’s footballers ever got to Brazil 2014, but that doesn’t mean Turks were completely shut out of the samba fun. Leaving aside World Cup winner Mesut Özil – Germany’s midfielder of Turkish extraction – the only prominent Turk at the tournament was the man in the middle, referee Cüneyt Çakır. Winning plaudits for his calm performances once more, Çakır “advanced” all the way to the semis, officiating Argentina’s victory over the Oranje on penalties.
Who needs Messi when you have Tayyip Erdoğan?
July 26, 2014
Taking time out of his busy schedule of instructing women how many children to have, informing the world who discovered the Americas and building himself a new house, PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – now president – found the time to rattle in a hat-trick in a promotional game for Istanbul Başakşehir’s new stadium. Joining more illustrious footballers like Demba Ba and Wesley Sneijder in posting hat-tricks in Turkey this year, Erdoğan helped his Orange team defeat the Whites 9-4. Best of all, the Whites sometimes made a pretense at defense.
Turkish rub shoulders with Europe’s best in Euroleague
They may be in need of an extra push to challenge Greek, Spanish or Russian teams for continental dominance, but the Turkish trio of Anadolu Efes, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe continue to excel in Europe, with each again reaching the last 16 in Euroleague play for the 2014-15 season, repeating their feat from last season. And with legendary Serbian coach Dusan Ivkovic now at the helm of Anadolu Efes, perhaps the Istanbul giant might be set for even better things.
Fener flag flies high as club legend finally hangs up his boots
Dec. 8, 2014
Even supporters of Fenerbahçe’s most bitter rivals could say little bad about Alex de Souza, the Brazilian who captured fans of the Yellow Canaries like no other foreign player ever did. Between 2004 and 2012, Alex became the club’s all-time leading foreign scorer, while his sense of decency also engendered him to fans, who funded a statue of him in Kadıköy’s Yoğurtçu Park, only for the striker to be run out of town by management. Alex finally called time on his career while playing for Coritiba, where the Fener flag flew in prominence in his last-ever match.
Beşiktaş’s Veli Kavlak gives lesson in fair play
Dec 24, 2014
If stupidity can be defined as trying something unsuccessfully over and over again, only to expect a different result, then footballers who continue to beseech the referee to alter a decision against a teammate might be considered … stupid. In a cup match between Beşiktaş and Adana Demirspor, however, referee Suat Arslanboğa did rescind a red card issued to Demir’s Hakan Söyler – thanks to the intervention of the Black Eagles’ Veli Kavlak, who intervened on his opponent’s behalf to demand the retraction of his rival’s marching orders.
Turks eliminated early at Winter Olympics
Feb 7-23, 2014
Turkish competitors failed to get anywhere near the podium during the 2014 Sochi Winter Games – a failure that deserves to be laid more at the feet of the country’s sporting authorities and a general lack of popular interest in any sporting event that doesn’t feature a round ball than the six athletes that competed for the Star and Crescent in Russia. The lack of success, however, presents an indictment of the country’s sporting system, given that half of it remains under snow for half the year.
Multimillion-lira ski jump center collapses in Erzurum
July 15, 2014
In a year in which alleged gross negligence cost hundreds of lives on building projects and worksites in Turkey, the collapse of a ski jumping site in Erzurum – with nary an injury – may more rightfully belong in the “good” column. However, the 67 million-lira project, inaugurated to great fanfare for the Winter Universiade in 2011, collapsed in a landslide just three years later. Prosecutors accused the contractor of using just one-meter steel pipes to undergird the towers, instead of the requisite 50, among other faults.
Hürriyet Sports section bids farewell to its Number 10
Sept 22, 2014
The sports section at daily Hürriyet was left with a big hole to fill after legendary journalist İlhan Söyler passed away following an illness. The death of the 66-year-old, who played for Gençlerbirliği, Fenerbahçe, PTT, Karagümrük, Adana Demirspor and Vefa before hanging up his boots in favor of a job in sports journalism, united rival teams in mourning.
Sabah reporter killed by problematic door at Galatasaray training ground
Aug 2, 2014
Who needs a five-ton "anti-terror" door for protection? The police? The American consulate? What about Galatasaray's training ground in Florya? The team continues to use a five-ton door that is famous for opening only a smidgen at its training premises. Experienced journalists know how the door works, but no one informed newly assigned journalist Erkan Koyuncu before he popped his head into the opening to ask about training times, only for the contraption to suddenly close on his head, killing him.
Turkish Football Federation kills the atmosphere with ‘Passolig’
As if most Turkish stadia were not already empty due to the inordinate amount of attention accorded to the “big three,” authorities went and made a bad situation worse, implementing the “Passolig” system for the 2014-15 season, requiring supporters to provide personal ID details and purchase an extra card on top of the match ticket. The result? Empty stadia around the country and more than a whiff of a suggestion that the measure was designed to prevent any Gezi-inspired protests reaching the terraces.
Lions whimper on way to setting futility records in Champions League
The good news for Galatasaray after a disastrous 2014-15 Champions League is that they at least avoided the ignominy of posting the worst-ever CL group stage campaign, a mark that remains with Dinamo Zagreb’s vintage of 2007-08 (0 points, 3 goals scored, 22 conceded). But its return of 1 point, 4 GF, 19 GA, -15 average was easily the worst in this year’s competition and even managed to beat the most recent record for Turkish futility in the tournament set by Bursaspor in the 2010-11 season (1 point, 2 GF, 16 GA, -14).
National team lurches from crisis to crisis amid guns and tears
After disappointing in qualifying for World Cup 2010, Turkey’s men’s national team picked up where it left off, flattering to deceive. It started Euro 2016 qualifying with a 3-0 loss to Iceland (population: 325,000, or 236 times smaller than Turkey) before going to plumb depths that exceeded rock bottom. Compounding the misery was a bust-up that involved Gökhan Töre allegedly pulling a gun on teammates, as well as crowd abuse that forced goalkeeper Volkan Demirel to abandon the ground before a game against Kazakhstan.
Beşiktaş supporters face tricky ‘away match’ in court over coup charges
Dec 16, 2014
çArşı, Beşiktaş’s most famous supporters’ group, might be most famous for its fanatical support, amusing banners and social conscience that has seen it lend its weight to everything from earthquake relief to helping kids with leukemia, but Turkish prosecutors have alleged the group is involved in far more sinister activity: plotting coups. Some 35 people from the group are standing trial on attempting to overthrow the government for protesting against police in Beşiktaş during last year’s Gezi protests.
Second-division player falls foul to glass surrounding court-side VIP section
Dec 20, 2014
Afyonkarahisar Belediye's U.S. basketball player Raymond Sykes was lucky to escape serious injury during his side's match away to BEST Balıkesir in the Turkish second division when the forward attempted to keep the ball in play, only to crash through a glass partition separating the court-side VIP section from the rest of the arena. Sykes was left bleeding on the court before taken away by ambulance.
Turkish hooligans rears head again as Serbian visitor stabbed to death
Nov 21, 2014
Galatasaray earned the opprobrium of the British 14 years ago when two Leeds supporters were stabbed to death in Taksim, and they earned the fury of Serbians when Red Star supporter Marko Ivkovic was knifed to death ahead of a Euroleague match versus the Lions. A Galatasaray supporter was eventually arrested eight days later, but not before Istanbul police invoked disbelief by initially suggesting Ivkovic was murdered by his friends and PM Ahmet Davutoğlu called his Serbian counterpart in an attempt to prevent a larger international incident.