Fenerbahce bus shooting uncovers serious issues for Turkish soccer

fener

After a 5-1 victory on the road against Rizespor on Saturday, the bus transporting Fenerbahce players and club officials came under attack from gunmen. The bus went over a viaduct when gunmen started shooting at the bus. The bus driver, who was identified as Ufuk Kiran, was struck by the glass from the bullets hitting the windows. A Fenerbahce security official slammed on the brakes when he noticed that the driver was shot, thereby preventing an even greater tragedy. The driver was taken to the hospital and his injuries were not life threatening.

Initial reports from Turkish media were conflicting. The Trabzon provincial governor initially said that a rock caused the damage to the bus. He later changed his story as more evidence came out that the damage was caused by bullets. The bullets have been determined to have originated from a shotgun. The governor, Abdil Celil Oz, said that he had received a phone call from Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asking about the investigation.

After the attack, pictures of the aftermath of the attack were seen across the news. They revealed damage to the windshield of the bus and the driver side window was shattered. Pictures also revealed blood on the driver’s seat and steering wheel.

Fenerbahce midfielder Mehmet Topal told reporters that they had “cheated death” and called the situation unbelievable. Fenerbahce vice-chairman Mahmut Uslu said that the shooting was an attempt to kill the players. The players eventually made it to the airport under armed guard and flew out to Istanbul. They were greeted at Sabiha Gokcen airport by fans and club officials led by club chairman Aziz Yildirim.

Many had come out to quickly condemn the attack. The Turkish Football Federation issued a statement of condemnation of the attack. Various clubs throughout the Turkish Super League did so as well.

However, there were many in Turkey who came out in support of the attack. Trabzonspor lawyer Atilla Dilaver tweeted that Fenerbahce influenced the media to change the story from the bus getting hit with rocks and “turned it into” a shooting, even though the initial investigation found that it was in fact a gun attack. Galatasaray club official Selim Arda Ucer said that while “match fixing was one thing, life is something else”. People praising the shootings were fans who support Trabzonspor and Galatasaray for the most part. Social media messages varied in this matter ranging from people wishing that they had died to Fenerbahce deserving to get shot because they had fixed matches in the 2010-2011 season to even why didn’t the shooter kill Emre Belozoglu. Some have even put the blame for the shootings on the Turkish Football Federation themselves.

Fenerbahce came out on Sunday and called for the league to be suspended. In a statement posted on their website said: “We consider that as long as this attack is not solved in a way that satisfies Fenerbahce and the public, it is inevitable that the league should be suspended. Blood ran and football was silenced.” The Turkish Football Federation later decided to suspend Fenerbahce’s matches for this week. One was the Turkish Cup quarter-final second leg against Mersin Idman Yurdu and the other was their league match against Bursaspor.

There were those in social media implying that the TFF did so to give Fenerbahce an unfair advantage over the other teams. Since Fenerbahce had eight players injured, three of which suffered injuries during their match against Rizespor, it would give Fenerbahce extra time for players to recover. Some even implied that Fenerbahce influenced the TFF into postponing their games due to so many of their players being injured.

The Turkish Football Federation then decided to suspend all league matches for one week. Also, the second legs of the Turkish Cup quarterfinals have been suspended.

In a press conference on Monday, Fenerbahce officials said that they do not want to play until the incident is resolved. Fenerbahce official Deniz Tolga Aytore said that the club will not play any matches and that the club’s responsibilities have been fulfilled. Aytore added that they found this incident to be an assassination attempt, and do not consider the incident to be an extension of a row with Trabzonspor about the much debated league title of 2011 due to a match fixing case. Granted the league has suspended play, but it looks as though Fenerbahce are pressuring the authorities to wrap up the case in a timely manner. In a country where investigations either drag on for so long that people forget about them, or covers up investigations, perhaps this is something to encourage the authorities to get the investigation resolved in a timely manner. Whether Fenerbahce actually goes through with their threat of not playing is another story.

The shooting uncovers a far greater issue when it comes to Turkish soccer, and Turkish society as a whole, and that is the polarization of fans. The fact that some fans on social media are praising the actions of the shooters not only is disturbing, but infuriating. Turks already have a stereotype attached to them as barbarians, and those praising this shooting did not help change anyone’s views.

The shooting could affect the possibility of transfer signings this summer. The Turkish Football Federation recently approved a loosening of the foreigner quota. However, because of the shooting, many players would be very wary of coming to Turkey, even those who are part of the Turkish diaspora. Turkey already doesn’t have the best of reputations in terms of its league being attractive to players, unless there’s money thrown around. With this shooting, will foreigners, even with the money and the 15% tax rate on footballers, even think about coming to Turkey? Their security might not be guaranteed.

The shadow of the 2011 match fixing case has never gone away. That may be more due to people who can’t move on from the TFF’s decision on the matter. While some cite UEFA’s decision to bar Fenerbahce from Europe for two years, UEFA can’t rule on affairs exclusive to a domestic federation, which the 2011 match fixing scandal was. There has always been confusion among people in Turkey and in the Turkish diaspora as to the autonomy of soccer organizations, and this has never been rectified. Regardless of where people have stood on the 2011 match fixing case, all the decisions from the respective organizations have been rendered.

However, many are still using that as an excuse to justify any sort of action against Fenerbahce, much less this one. There is a certain section of the populace that says that this would go away if Fenerbahce gave Trabzonspor the 2011 league title. But the TFF has already ruled on the matter, and even if that were to happen, the backlash against Fenerbahce due to that case would not cease. It has been Trabzonspor and those affiliated with the club for the most part who still are dragging this already dead issue into the spotlight when they should have moved on. While the club itself has condemned the attack, this grudge of Trabzonspor’s over a league title from four years ago has gone on for far too long.

Many in Turkey still mockingly refer to Fenerbahce as a “match fixing” club, so they justify any sort of action against the club due to this perception. This has now even extended itself to the bus shooting. People have left comments and tweeted that due to the fact that Fenerbahce allegedly engaged in match fixing, they deserved to have their bus shot at. One would think that due to this sort of thinking, if a greater tragedy occurred and people had died, people would find same sort of justification for it.

The match fixing case is currently being retried in the Turkish court system. One can only imagine what would happen if all of the accused are found not guilty or the case is dropped. Granted the case isn’t the major cause of the issues of Turkish football. It’s just the most popularized.

The Fenerbahce bus shooting should have been able to bring the soccer community together in Turkey. In some ways it has, but in other ways it still shows how polarized the country is. While some people were trying to justify the actions of a shooter, it shows that Turkey isn’t really a soccer country at all. All Turkey has in terms of soccer is a club culture, and a very poisonous one at that. The shooting of the Fenerbahce team bus has brought out the best and worst of Turkish soccer and its fans.

As for what the solution to this ongoing problem is, even if there was a perfect solution, it would never solve the problem. Even if there was a tragedy involving players, club officials, or even soccer administrators, some will find a way to justify the actions, especially if it involves Fenerbahce in some form. But the Fenerbahce bus shooting just shows that according to some people in Turkey, some lives aren’t worth as much as others, and that’s the biggest tragedy of all.

 

25+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, Liga MX, MLS & World Cup
  • Includes ESPN, FOX, Univision, TUDN and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
  • Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
  • Watch Argentine league, Brasileirāo and Copa Libertadores
  • Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, Copa del Rey & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo.
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & more
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
Get All 3 And Save 30%
  • $13.99/mo. for ESPN+, Disney+ & Hulu
  • Includes Bundesliga, LaLiga, NHL & the home to UFC
  • Features Marvel, Star Wars + shows & movies for your entire family

Leave a Reply

Translate »