When one thinks of soccer in Turkey, the first thing that would come to mind is the passion of the fans. The fans in Turkey have the reputation for being some of the craziest in Europe. But currently this season, the Turkish Super League has seen declining attendances. Where fans have once chanted for ninety minutes straight, they have been relatively silenced for the most part. Many have pointed out that this is the fault of a recently implemented electronic ticketing system called Passolig.
The Passolig system came as a result of the 2011 Violence in Sports Act (or Law 6222 on Sport). The purpose of the system is to prevent unwanted incidents, such as pitch invasions by fans, and hooliganism. The idea behind the system was to sanction individual fans instead of the clubs themselves for actions by fans. This has not been the case so far, as Galatasaray had to play in front of an empty stadium for their first home game of this season. But much of the criticism of the system derives from two factors. One is the nature of surveillance, and freedom of expression.
The threat of surveillance is one of the biggest criticisms of the system. Signing up for the system requires a fan to submit personal information, with one of them being which team the fan supports. Once registered, the person can only get tickets for games involving their supported club only. Tickets are not transferable, and one cannot take a friend to a game unless they are signed up for the system as well. Every seat in a stadium is associated with an ID number, so there is no fan anonymity. The personal information is then kept by AktifBank. AktifBank, who won the contract for Passolig last April, is owned by the son-in-law of then-prime minister, now president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. With the bank having a monopoly over the administration of this system, Erdogan and his allies within his own AK Party have denied government tenders if said businesses were not favorable to the ruling party. While security cameras around the stadium wouldn’t be anything new for football fans anywhere, many fear that the cameras used in the stadium will be used to identify fans that the ruling party could potentially harass and target. This leads to fans, understandably, being very wary of what the government would do with their personal information.