Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Turkish Soccer Fans Injure 25 Police Officers Rather Than Let Visiting Fans Into Their Stadium

No, this is not footage of a coup d'état in Turkey, this is footage of the violence that broke out between soccer fans before the Bursaspor-Beşiktaş game this past Saturday. The Turkish Football Federation had to cancel the game after angry fans rioted, injuring 25 policemen.


Bursa Police ultimately had to close streets in order to contain open fires, physical violence and rioting. World Soccer Reader provides this breakdown of the incident:

6:39pm: Hooligans were waiting at the Bursa Ataturk stadium for Beşiktaş fans, and began clashing with police. Some fans threw rocks at the police.
6:55pm: Bursaspor fans broke store windows. Bystanders were injured in the process. Police had to call in ambulances.
6:57pm: Bursaspor fans start to assault security detail with rocks. Twenty-five policemen were injured.
6:59pm: Beşiktaş fans who had gathered in the Orhangazi district of Bursa were not given permission to go to the match.
7:24pm: The Turkish Football Federation announces that the match had been canceled.


Apparently, all this violence broke out because Bursaspor fans would not permit Beşiktaş fans to enter the stadium. Bursaspor fans maintain this is a revenge attack for the violence that broke out in Istanbul last year. Turkish soccer franchises have a long history of, shall we say, spirited rivalries. Elif Batuman explained the tortured nature of the Beşiktaş fan base in a great (and, unfortunately, paywall'd) New Yorker profile this past March:

Each of the Istanbul teams [Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, and Beşiktaş] has its own stereotype... Beşiktaş is the underdog, the working-class team, known for the ardor of its fans. According to one study, the Turkish stock market goes up when Beşiktaş wins a game — a sign, economists theorize, of its supporters' fanaticism. The filmmaker Zeki Demirkubuz, who cites Dostoevsky as his greatest influence, calls Beşiktaş "the most surreal team in the world." Fenerbahce and Galatasary "only care about winning," but Beşiktaş is "essentially irrational, and therefore essentially human." The language of Beşiktaş is characterized both by over-the-top profanity and by the poetry of longing and love — mad, unrequited love, love that drives you to death. "It was a rainy day when I saw you," one Beşiktaş lyric begins. "You were wearing striped uniforms."

Let's take a moment to be thankful the American economy does not hinge on whether the Buffalo Bills win or lose a game, and that we only have the most surreal athletes in the world.

As of now, the Turkish Football Federation hasn't reached a decision on the outcome of Saturday's game. The expected consequence for the prematch events will be a win by forfeit for Beşiktaş.

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