Category: Football


Turkish Super League began on August 14. Now, some top players started to follow Wesley Sneijder’s (Galatasaray) and Didier Drogba’s (former Galatasaray player) path. They were Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray), Robin van Persie, Nani (Fenerbahce), Samuel Eto’o (Antalyaspor), Mario Gomes and Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas). Not to mention continued speculation linking Victor Valdes with a move to Galatasaray.

With the transfer of top players, it seems that Turkish league will be more attractive, especially for fans of big clubs (Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray). But behind the glamorous of world of new signings, Turkish league existence is being threatened.

Last season, the spectators has fallen dramatically. It happened since the implementation of new ticketing system called passolig by Turkish Football Federation (TFF). This system requires football supporters to acquire a card called passolig to buy a ticket. The problem is that the passolig contains personal details including name and bank account number.

Initially, passolig was introduced as implementation of Law Number 6222 of 2011 on Prevention of Violence and Disorder at Sporting Events. Hoooliganism taking place in big some of big matches triggered TFF to take strict measure, one of them was applying passolig system.

In fact, passolig was negatively responded by football fans. They boycotted the matches in protest at passolig. As a consequence, attendances in stadium dropped sharply. According to stadiumdb.com , the number of Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray fans fell by an average of 15.335, 22.241 and 16 255 people per game.

In a country like Turkey, football can’t be separated from politics. And passolig accused as a part of the attempts to spy on citizens. In addition, passolig also considered violating protection of personal data.

People in Turkey have used football as a tool to exercise freedom of expression. Passolig was implemented last season, 1 year after after anti-government protest in Gezi Park, Istanbul, which was spread to other cities in Turkey. At that time, supporters of Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray took to the street to participate in such protest.

In December 2014, Çarşı, a leftist supporter group of Besiktas, was indicted by prosecutor on charges of trying to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan (now President of Turkey) on that protest. This result in lower public trust in government.

Withdrawal of Sponsorship

As of January 2015, due to the decrease in the number of attendance in stadium, Yildiz Holding withdrew as a sponsor. Yildiz Holding is a Turkish top business group which has become a sponsor of TFF, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. In his letter to TFF, Murat Ulker, owner of Yildiz Holding (the richest man in the Turkey according to Forbes magazine) said that Turkish football brand value has dropped and the games become unattractive.

Ulker also criticised on passolig system. He said nobody wants their information to be collected. He also slammed TFF decision regarding foreign player quota. “Teams can now play with 11 foreign players. This is irrational. Then what will the Turkish players do?”

Yildiz Holding is known for its contributions to sport activities in Turkey. Over the past nine years, their contribution to Turkish football reached 215 million US dollars. The decision was really unfortunate, because it doesn’t rule out any other companies withdrawal from sponsorship.

Besides passolig and the withdrawal of sponsor, Turkish clubs are also in debt. According to data from the Stoxx Europe Football Index released by bloomberg.com, Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Trabzonspor were on the list of 22 football clubs with the highest debt.

Interestingly, despite the debt, Turkish clubs signed top players. Fenerbahce, for example, agreed to pay Van Persie as much as 6.2 million US dollars per season. Similarly, Galatasaray wasn’t left behind by bringing Lukas Podolski.

How could it be? Emre Deliveli, a Turkish economic consultant who was interviewed by bloomberg.com said : ” Galatasaray is buying because Fenerbahce is buying, and Fenerbahce is buying because Galatasaray is buying “.

Meanwhile, in April this year, some Besiktas assets were seized by court for its debt amounting to 3.8 million US dollars to an advertising company called Active Tanitim.

Security Threat

Last year, Donetsk’s Donbass Arena Stadium bombed as a consequence of conflict between the armed forces of Ukraine and pro-Russian separatist. As a result of this conflict, Shaktar Donetsk had to move its headquarters to Kiev and its training ground to Lviv.

The situation in Turkey is not as bad as in Ukraine. However, on 22 July, a suicide bombing by suspected ISIS supporters rocked Suruc (a city on the border with Syria). One of the participants of Super League, Gaziantepspor, has its headquartered in Gaziantep, which sits on the border between Turkey and Syria .

Potential security threat also faced by Istanbul and other cities. In fact, terrorist cells also spread in big cities. Fortunately, Turkish government responded by conducting large scale anti-terrorist operations in 13 provinces (including Istanbul) shortly after the bombing.

Other examples of terrorist attack which “disrupted” football competition were bombing of the British Consulate and HSBC building in Istanbul by Al-Qaeda terrorist network in 2003. As a result, 2 European matches, Juventus vs Galatasaray and Besiktas vs Chelsea, were moved from Turkey to a neutral venue.

In the end, the existence of Turkish football depends not only on the technical aspects of football. Social politics and economics aspect also play an active role. Business and technical aspect of football remain the domain of club and TFF. However, security is “absolute domain” of government. Will the Turkish football climb out of this crisis? Only time will tell.

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This article was translated from Indonesian. The original version has been published in Topskor Daily Sport Newspaper, 15 August 2015 . You can see the original version below .

After a month-long competition, the United States of America won FIFA Women’s World Cup for the third time, beating Japan 5-2 in the finals early this month. The thrilling final match happened shortly after the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage on 26 June. The decision is a reminder of the long battle against homophobia in the sport.

It is an undeniable fact that football still has a problem with homophobia. In a press conference in 2013, FIFA President Sepp Blatter evaded a question on this issue: “This, I think, is not the time to bring it up now. If you bring it to my attention, then I should have a look at it, but I cannot give you a definite answer.”

When Mexican fans chanted anti-gay slurs in Men’s World Cup 2014 in Brazil, FIFA investigated the case, but finally dropped it after its disciplinary committee considered the word “puto” not a derogatory term. In fact, “puto” in Spanish could be translated as “gay”. The world of football has always been a men’s world, with misogyny, sexism and homophobia being common ingredients.

Women in football have had to battle sexism and discrimination, and homophobia adds another layer to this. But women’s football has been less harsh when dealing with homosexuality than its male counterparts. It is commonly known that many female footballers are lesbians, and in recent years, more of them have come out.

During FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, Swiss International forward, Ramona Bachmann for the first time talked about her girlfriend openly to Swiss popular newspaper, Sonntagsblick. She decided to come out publicly after Switzerland beat Ecuador with 10-1, three of the goals were made by her. It was a perfect timing for Bachmann to reveal that she was in relationship with Camille Lara, a 21-year-old student.

“When I hold hands with Camille on the street in Switzerland, people turn their heads. This is not the case in Sweden, and not here in Canada,” said the 24-year-old forward who had been called “the Female Messi from Switzerland”. Bachmann was already pretty open on her Instagram, sharing some pictures of her and her girlfriend.

Bachmann is not alone. There are 17 World Cup players who are open about their homosexuality. Two-time World Cup winners and Germany Women’s National Team, Nadine Angerer talked about her bisexuality in 2010.

In her biography, Angerer said: “I have been with men. But, I do love women only.” Many female players who are openly lesbian are in romantic relationships with their teammates, but Angerer avoided romance with colleagues,

“With a footballer, let alone a fellow player, I’ve never been together…. Never fuck the Company,” she writes in her book Im richtigen Moment: Meine Story. Angerer has been in a relationship with Magda Golombek since 2013.

The US Women’s National Team veteran Abby Wambach, who just won the 3rd World Cup for USA is also open about her relationship. In 2013 she married her former teammate Sarah Huffman.

“After I got married, I definitely had a shift in emotional devotion. Forever, it was just soccer – passion, life, love. Then I got married, and I had to transfer some of my energy. I want to be my best for my country, but I also made a really big promise and choice to be the best in my marriage. That has not always been the easiest thing to manage,” said Wambach to The New York Times in 2013.

Isabelle Herlovsen is the daughter of famous international footballer Kai Erik Herlovsen. When she was born, her father played for Borussia Mochengladbach. She came out as a lesbian publicly in July 2011, but had been out to her friends and family since her teen years. It felt natural to her when she wanted to be true to herself. She believes that it is important to be open publicly.

The Canadian International goalkeeper, Erin McLeod is in a relationship with fellow National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) side, Houston Dash teammates Ella Masar.

McLeod wrote in her blog: “As I get older I realize how important it is to be true to exactly who you are – and to have the courage to be just that – so that all young people can grow up in a world that is accepting of all people – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or heterosexual.”

Her partner Masar, who is very religious, came out in an honest article in Pitchside Report, telling of her current love, “That has always been my deal with Erin – that was my word to her that love will always win.” Masar and McLeod shared their moments together on their Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Katie Duncan (nee Hoyle), who played for New Zealand’s national team, just wedded former Football Ferns (the team’s nickname) team member Priscilla Duncan. After the wedding, Katie adjusted her life and joined Swiss Nationalliga side FC Zurich to be closer with her wife.

The Swedish team has several openly lesbian players. Nilla Fischer is married to Maria Michaela in November 2013 and had her upper arm tattooed with the declaration “I love her. That is the beginning and the end of everything.” She was named “LGBTQ Person of the Year” in 2014 in Sweden.

The Swedish International goalkeeper, Hedvig Lindahl is married and has a son with her wife Sabine. Swedish midfielder, Caroline Seger, who has won over a century caps for the country’s national team since her debut in 2005, used to conceal her sexuality, but decided to speak out to help other gay and lesbian young people who might be struggling with their identity. Lisa Dahlkvist, daughter of former pro footballer Sven Dahlkvist, came out publicly as lesbian in 2008 and is now in a relationship with Jessica Danielson.

There is no secret about the US Women’s National Team midfielder, Megan Rapinoe, who came out as lesbian in 2012. She said: “I just felt like I was leaving something out and omitting something and not being 100 percent truthful. Even though I never lied about anything.”

England and Arsenal Ladies defender, Casey Stoney, came out publicly in February 2014, and then announced that her partner, Megan Harris was pregnant with twins. Harris gave birth to Teddy and Tilly, in November 2014.

“I have struggled to accept myself for many years, I have had no reason to feel that way but there is still a stigma, you still hear certain abuse thrown at other people and think, We are still living in the dark ages sometimes. But actually what coming out has shown me is that society is changing for the better. I feel lucky to live in this country,” Stoney told the BBC.

While men’s football leagues are reluctant to support the LGBT community, female football teams offer acceptance. Robbie Rogers is a member of LA Galaxy football club and a former US men’s national football team member. In February 2013, he came out as gay, making him the second gay football player in Britain to come out in public after Justin Fashanu. Several weeks after being released by Leeds United, he announced his retirement. Rogers claimed his sexuality had become a dark secret and he was forced to leave football, because of attitudes towards homosexuality in the sport. But in April 2013 he decided to return and joined LA Galaxy.

Breaking down the barrier of homophobic attitudes is only possible if players, fans, and FIFA stand together. As is stated in FIFA statutes, the role of FIFA is to promote the game “globally in the light of its unifying, educational, cultural and humanitarian values.” However, its core mission is mutually incompatible with the reality on the ground. The world’s highest football organization has a lot of work to catch up.

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This article has been publish here . Read also my article about “Discrimination Against Women Footballer In Spain

On 28 May, Turkish people celebrate the second year anniversary of Gezi Park protest. The protest, which lasted for approximately one month, was initiated by a group of environmentalists in Istanbul opposing the construction of a replica of Ottoman military barracks in Gezi Park.

The problem is that the Gezi Park is one of the few remaining green spaces in Istanbul. Rumors suggested that not only the replicas which would be built there, but also the shopping center. Various sources claimed that the decision to redevelop Gezi Park into a replica of Ottoman military barracks made too quickly, without public consultation, and without open discussion. This protest quickly spread to various cities in Turkey.

As time went by, this protest turned into anti-government protests. Various circle of society, ranging from students to civil society groups expressed their disappointment with Prime Minister’s (Reccep Tayyip Erdogan) political style. Actually, this protest was the culmination of public discontent with the government. After the Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the 2002 General Election, Turkey’s economy and political situation were relatively stable. There were no turbulence until 2011. After a period of tranquility was ended, Erdogan began to show his negative side by applying authoritarian policies.

In 2013, Freedom House, a US based NGO issued a report on democracy index in Turkey.  According to the report, Turkey remained a “partly free country”. One of the reasons was because in 2012, Turkey imprisoned more journalists than any other country in the world. In addition, political opponents were oppressed and sometimes they were subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.

Participation of Football Supporters Clubs In Gezi Park Protest

One of those groups which participated in the protest were football fans in Istanbul, especially the supporters of Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray. Among those supporter groups, Beşiktaş fans were the most in numbers, followed by Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray. The main Galatasaray groups stayed away from the protest after joining in initially because their leaders are close to AKP and Erdogan. Nonetheless, it did not stop other Galatasaray supporters from showing up.

It is unimaginable that thousands of football fans from the rival clubs united by protests against the ruling government. They called their collaborative action as “Istanbul United”. Their action was documented in a movie called “Istanbul United”, which were directed by Olli Waldhauer and Farid Eslam.

A most famous group of Beşiktaş supporters called “Çarşı” was the largest in number and the most influential. Çarşı is a “left wing” supporters group and the most politically active. Gezi Park protest was not unprecedent action for them. During the 2005/2006 football season, they collaborated with Greenpeace to oppose the installation of a nuclear power station in Sinop (a Turkish city near the black sea).

Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray fans. Source : Uludagsozluk.com

Courage shown by Çarşı during Gezi Park protest was not without risk. After the protest many of them were arrested, detained, and brought to trial. They were charged with “plotting a coup”. Furthermore, the indictment was explained that they were “attempting to capture the Prime Ministry’s offices with the aim of creating “Arab Spring-like upheaval”.

Criminal indictment against Çarşı received many criticisms, one of them was from an international human rights NGO, Human Rights Watch (HRW). ” Charging these Beşiktaş football club fans as enemies of the state for joining a public protest is a ludicrous travesty. It reveals a great deal about the enormous pressure being exerted on Turkey’s justice system by the government” , said Emma Sinclair-Webb, the senior Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch. “.

Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) deputy Atilla Kart described the indictment as a strong indication of fascist rule in Turkey. “The government wishes to put the entire society under pressure. This is fascism. The government calls all acts by civilians, which include prevention of the uprooting of trees and protection of the environment, coup attempt”, he complained.

Support for Çarşı also came from Borussia Dortmund fans. When Dortmund played against Frieburg in Signal Iduna Park stadium on 13 of September 2014, Dortmund supporters unfurled a banner reading : “Do not give up” and “Freedom for the Ultras (Çarşı) and Turkey”.

Until now, the trial against 35 members of Çarşı is still ongoing. Çarşı continued to actively voice the oppressed, for example by joining May Day march. What Beşiktaş,  Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray did in Gezi Park protest is a proof that football can play a unifying role in a fight against tyranny. Perhaps, for many people, justice, democracy, and freedom have died in Turkey. However, the struggle will continue whenever and at any cost.

Çarşı participated in May Day

Çarşı participated in May Day. Source : Hurriyet.com.tr

Bu makale, adalet, demokrasi ve özgürlük için mücadele eden türk halkına ithaf edilmiştir (This article is dedicated to Turkish people who are defending justice, democracy, and freedom)

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*This article was translated from Indonesian. Please read the original version here .