A Turkish Super Cup final between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray was canceled on Friday due to unusual circumstances.

Turkish soccer officials previously announced that the big game would be played in Saudi Arabia. The move was met with controversy, as many fans ridiculed the decision.

The fixture typically pits the Super Lig title holders against the Turkish Cup winners. Galatasaray previously collected the league title, while rivals Fenerbahce triumphed in the cup competition.

The 2023 version of the matchup was set to be played on Friday, December 29th at Al-Awwal Park in Riyadh. Even though thousands of fans were already filling the arena, organizers called off the match. This, of course, meant that supporters spent money on travel and hotel accommodations for a match that never took place.

The crux of the issue was apparently down to what the two teams wanted to wear ahead of the match. Both Galatasaray and Fenerbahce planned to don T-shirts featuring Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He was previously the first president of the country and is widely seen as a national hero.

Match organizers say clubs did not comply with previous rules

Nevertheless, Saudi officials did not approve of the move. Following the decision to cancel the match, organizers claimed that the clubs did “not adhere to what had been agreed upon” when the game was arranged.

“We had been looking forward to holding the match and in accordance with the international football rules and regulations; which required presenting the sport without any slogans outside its scope,” read the Saudi statement.

“Especially since this was discussed with the Football Federation of Turkey within the framework of the match’s preparatory meetings, and the need to adhere to what is required by the regulations pertaining to this match, in accordance with the international rules and regulations, was emphasized.”

“It was also agreed that the national anthem of the Republic of Turkey will be played, along with the display of the Turkey flag inside the stadium and in the stands, due to the appreciation we hold for the Republic of Turkey.”

“Despite this consensus, it was unfortunate that the two teams did not adhere to what had been agreed upon, which led to the match not being held.”

Game likely to be played back in Turkey

The latest incident comes as the two nations have attempted to mend their relationship. Tensions previously boiled after Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated by Saudi agents in Istanbul five years ago.

Although the match was canceled at the last minute, a resolution has not yet been confirmed. Turkish soccer officials essentially blamed the ordeal on the Saudi organizers, while also thanking the nation for arranging the game.

Fellow Turkish teams Besiktas and MKE Ankaragucu both subsequently offered to host the game at their stadiums. Galatasaray and Fenerbahce officials have supposedly held discussions with Turkish Football Federation President Mehmet Buyukeksi on the future of the match.

The two Turkish giants are currently level on points in the Super Lig standings. The top flight is on a winter break at the moment and neither team will play a league game until January 7th.

Potentially playing the match inside Turkey before this date still seems possible.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Seskim Photo.