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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Turkish Prime Minister Orders Investigation Into Rocky Balboa Tifo

Image: BeIN Sports
Image: BeIN Sports

When Galatasaray SK took to the pitch yesterday for its match against Fenerbahce, fans unveiled a pre-game tifo featuring beloved fictitious Philadelphia boxing legend Rocky Balboa. Now Binali Yildirim, Turkey’s prime minister, has ordered an investigation into the Rocky tifo.


Yildirim released a statement a day after the scoreless draw between the clubs saying the tifo would be investigated. Turkish media said the tifo—which was accompanied by the phrases “Rise up” and “They look big because you’re on your knees” (but in Istanbul Turkish)—may have been a reference to exiled Turkish leader Fethullah Gülen.

Bloomberg Markets helpfully explains:

Gülen lives in self-imposed exile in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, while Rocky has a statue dedicated to him in Philadelphia, his home town and Pennsylvania’s largest city. “Pennsylvania” is used as shorthand in Turkey for references to Gülen and his following, which the government has classified as a terrorist organization.

The prime minister’s statement didn’t elaborate on the reasons for the probe.

In a statement, Galatasaray said the banner and slogans were being taken out of context and that it had received all necessary permissions for displaying them before the match. It criticized those who were “trying to put the names of Galatasaray and the terror organization side-by-side.”

(If you’re wondering, when Gülen was blamed for the attempted coup last year, local TV news did what it does best: interview Gülen’s neighbors about what a great guy he is. “They’re the nicest people,” neighbor James Connelly told Scranton’s WNEP-TV. “They give us food and they always invite me over for dinner.”)

Bloomberg says shares of Galatasaray fell 4.9 percent after the news of the investigation. Hey, as Rocky told us: The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Staff editor, Deadspin