Violence overshadows football in Turkey

Violence overshadows football in Turkey

Violence overshadows football in Turkey

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It was not game fever but violence that marked Turkish football over the weekend, with an assistant referee being attacked by a fan during a top-tier game between Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor, while executives of Amedspor were also beaten by a mob in the capital after a game against Ankaragücü.  

The Turkish Spor Toto Super League match between Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor late on April 24 was abandoned in the 89th minute after Trabzonspor fans stormed the pitch and attacked assistant referee Volkan Bayarslan. 

Istanbul side Fenerbahçe, which is second in the standings, was leading 4-0 after goals by Alper Potuk, Volkan Şen, Luis Nani and Robin van Persie. 

After Trabzonspor supporters ran onto the pitch, one of them tackled Bayarslan and kicked and punched him several times until security intervened. 

A 17-year-old suspect was detained on April 25.

“The game will be ruled 4-0 in favor of Fenerbahçe,” the visiting side said on Twitter. 

Fener coach Vitor Pereira was unable to dwell on the fact that his club had pulled to within three points of leader Beşiktaş with the victory, focusing instead on the violence on the pitch. 

“The worst thing about tonight is that a little girl, crying, was carried by her father out of the stands,” he said after the game. 

“A father should be able to bring his children and wife to matches without any danger,” he said, adding that the attackers even reached the dressing rooms. 

Trabzonspor President Muharrem Usta extended his condolences to the match official, but failed to apologize, as he said the thought the attack was an act of provocation against the Black Sea giant.

Bayarslan is no stranger to Trabzon as he graduated from the geophysical engineering faculty of Karadeniz Technical University in the city and began his career as a referee there in 2010. 

The relations between Fener and Trabzon have been tense since the latter demanded the league title for the 2010/2011 season, arguing that because the Istanbul side had been caught up in a match-fixing scandal, the Black Sea club should be awarded the trophy. As it is, Trabzonspor was given Fener’s place in the Champions League group stage that year.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) decided to suspend all first-tier Spor Toto Super League games, along with the Ziraat Turkey Cup matchups, for one week following a gun attack on Fenerbahçe’s team bus on April 4, 2015, which left the bus driver seriously wounded.

Elsewhere, a third-tier game between Ankara’s Ankaragücü and Amedspor of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on April 24 also witnessed violence not on the pitch but in the VIP stands.

Five Amedspor officials were hospitalized after being beaten by a group, whom they said were their counterparts from the home side. 

The attack game after Amedspor scored its second goal in the 85th minute to put the visitors 2-1 ahead. 
Ankaragücü fans reportedly chanted slogans that linked Amedspor to Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

Amedspor President Ali Karakaş said after the game that the TFF was also responsible for the attack for its “political stance against Amedspor.” 

Last week, Turkish footballing authorities issued a monetary fine against Amedspor and deducted three points from the club because its supporters engaged in “ideological propaganda.” 

Deniz Naki, who was suspended for 12 games by the Professional Football Disciplinary Board (PFDK) for his remarks on social media after a cup match against Bursaspor on Jan. 31, which Amedspor won 2-1 away, scored the second goal on April 24. 

“It was a very important victory for us today,” Naki posted on social media after the match.

“We have come clear against this dirty game targeting us. We are proud to be a small hope of light for our people in such difficult times. As Amedspor, we have not submitted and we will not submit. Her bijî Azadî! [Long live freedom in Kurdish],” the player added.