Turkish football goes ‘bananas’ in racism row
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
The fan who was photographed with a banana in his hand said he had recently undergone an operation and was therefore mostly eating fruit.Fenerbahçe defended two of its fans waving bananas at the pitch during last week’s derby against Galatasaray, as part of a mounting racism row in Turkish football.
The Istanbul club had a press conference on May 15 to address the recent controversy following last weekend’s Spor Toto Super League derby between Turkish football’s fiercest rivals. A photograph showing two fans waving bananas at the pitch hit the web after being released by the AMK sports daily on May 12, and the controversy was boosted after Galatasaray star Didier Drogba posted a statement on the club’s Facebook page.
At the press conference hosted by the Fenerbahçe board, the two fans announced that there was no racist motivation behind their gestures. The fan who was photographed with a banana in his hand said he had recently undergone an operation and was therefore mostly eating fruit. He added that he had black friends.
The other fan said he was given the banana by another friend, and started shouting at the pitch when the supporters’ group started chanting slogans. He said Galatasaray goalkeepers Fernando Muslera and Eray İşcan, as well as coach Claudio Taffarel, were in the firing line at the time the photograph was taken. He denied reports that the gesture was aimed at Galatasaray’s Ivory Coast stars Drogba and Emmanuel Eboue.
“I did not even have the slightest thought that it could be racist,” he added.
The press conference also included footage apparently showing that Drogba and Eboue were not on the pitch when the fan was holding the banana.
At the beginning of the press conference, Fenerbahçe board member Tolga Deniz Aytöre said they had broken their silence because “the controversy was going through Fenerbahçe” and events were “against Turkish traditions.”
“We want to save Turkey from the situation it has fallen into, especially in the eyes of the international media,” Aytöre added.
Earlier this week, Drogba issued a message on Galatasaray’s official Facebook page.
“You call me monkey but you cried when Chelsea beat Fenerbahçe in 2008, you called me monkey but you jumped in front of your screen when I won the Champions League, you called me monkey but you got mad when I became champion with Galatasaray. The saddest thing is you called me monkey and forgot that you jumped when my ‘monkey’ brother scored twice yesterday ... And you call yourself a true fan?? Check all the Galatasaray fans comments and learn from them,” he wrote.
Cameroon international Pierre Webo scored both of Fenerbahçe’s goals in the victory over Galatasaray.
Drogba has also replied to racist abuse he received on his Instagram page earlier this week, sending another message explaining that he was happy being in Turkey.
“Please don’t get me wrong. Being in Turkey for the last five months is the best thing that could have happened in my career,” Drogba wrote on the photo sharing application. “I’m already in love with Turkey and the Turkish people, I’ve been playing against many teams across the country and they were always respectful despite me playing for [Galatasaray]. Thats why I can’t and will never change my opinion about this beautiful country,” the message said.
“Stupid people are all around the world, it’s up to us to educate them,” the Ivory Coast icon added.
“Now, more than ever, I will continue to promote Turkish football everywhere in the world as much I can and represent my team the best I can,” Drogba’s message said.