United ultras join forces against police violence in Taksim

United ultras join forces against police violence in Taksim

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
United ultras join forces against police violence in Taksim

Supporters of different Turkish football clubs pose together during a demonstration held in Antalya to show solidarity with the protests in Taksim. DHA photo

Turkey’s football fans put their rivalries aside and walked shoulder to shoulder in previously unseen solidarity as part of the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul over the weekend.

Supporters of the Turkish football’s “big three,” Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, organized on social media and became a part of thousands gathered in Istanbul’s central Taksim district on May 31. Their call was soon followed up by other fans, such as Bursaspor, known for their feud with Beşiktaş, and Trabzonspor, whose general disaffection for Fenerbahçe is well documented.

Fenerbahçe’s diehard online fan group “12 Numara” released a statement yesterday, documenting the importance of the fans’ united forces.

“We have come to the conclusion: Yellow without navy blue and red, black without white is impossible,” the statement read, referring to the giant team’s colors. “With them, it is stronger and more beautiful.”

A day after, İzmir’s Karşıyaka and Göztepe, arguably the fiercest rivalry in Turkish football, even surpassing the famous Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahçe feud, joined forces to participate in protests at the Aegean district.

It was not only an act of solidarity, but their experience in battling with the police was crucial. Most hooligans were the frontrunners against the police. Experience counts; most fans have faced police violence in the stands or outside the stadium. Fenerbahçe fans were tested with tear gas several times during their protests of the match-fixing case when their team’s 2010-2011 Turkish title came under scrutiny. Most recently, Beşiktaş fans had their share of tear gas with the police’s generous and indiscriminate use of gas on May 11, when they were bidding an emotional farewell to the İnönü Stadium, which will be rebuilt soon.

Over the weekend, fans were color-blind; they swapped jerseys and scarves, sometimes to give supports against tear gas.

Singer and writer Feridun Düzağaç, a known Beşiktaş fan, tweeted his awe for the new-found brotherhood between Istanbul’s rivals: “The pride I had when Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe fans were shoulder-to-shoulder walking to the district shouting ‘Beşiktaş you are our everything’ was worth everything. I am grateful.”