Turkish sports minister objects to beard ban for footballers
Beşiktaş midfielder Olcay Şahan.Youth and Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç has spoken out against a ban on footballers’ beards recently proposed by the chairman of a Turkisj Spor Toto Super League club.
“I want to state clearly that the way a player goes onto the pitch is something he alone should decide on,” Kılıç said on Nov. 18 during a parliamentary debate on his ministry’s 2015 budget.
“I don’t know what you think, but no one should meddle in this issue,” he told lawmakers at Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission.
Gençlerbirliği Chairman İlhan Cavcav complained last week that some footballers looked like students of imam-hatip religious vocational schools, and announced that a hefty fine would be issued to any of the club’s bearded players.
“I am 80 years old and I shave every single day,” Cavcav said, explaining his club’s decision to start issuing a fine of 25,000 Turkish Liras ($11,200) its hirsute footballers.
“Is this an imam-hatip school? You are a sportsman. You should be a model for the youth,” he added, speaking in an interview with the Doğan News Agency on Nov. 15, while complaining that that his own grandson was negatively affected by the growing number of beards in the football world.
As “bad examples,” Cavcav singled out Beşiktaş coach Slaven Bilic, Beşiktaş midfielder Olcay Şahan, Fenerbahçe goalkeeper Volkan Demirel, and Galatasaray midfielder Selçuk İnan.
Cavcav also revealed that he had applied to Turkish Football Federation (TFF) Chairman Yıldırım Demirören to impose a nationwide beard ban for footballers.
“He told me that they could not impose such a restriction because UEFA would not let them. I am fed up with this UEFA, I wish we had some other place to play our football,” he added, stressing that he would now push other clubs to take a common position against beards on the pitch.
Speaking at Parliament, Sport Minister Kılıç also acknowledged problems with the controversial “Passolig” electronic ticketing system implemented in Spor Toto Super League games this season, but claimed that only those who could not get free tickets anymore were protesting against the system.
Attendance at the country’s top league’s matches has plummeted since the first week, with the new “Passolig” e-ticketing system believed to be the main reason behind this.
Many supporters’ groups that make up the majority of matchgoers, including Beşiktaş’s Çarşı, Galatasaray’s Ultraslan and Tek Yumruk, Fenerbahçe’s Vamos Bien, Trabzonspor’s Vira, Bursaspor’s Texas and Gençlerbirliği’s Alkaralar, announced before the start of the new season that they would not be in the stands as long as the e-ticketing system is in place.