The big Istanbul derby last weekend ended in awful scenes, which unfortunately will cast doubt on Turkey’s ability to host a big tournament.
Besiktas were playing Galatasaray and were top of the table going into the match. They were trailing 2-1 thanks to two more goals from the ex-Chelsea Ivorian Didier Drogba going into the 92 minute, when a two-footed Felipe Melo tackle, which earned him a red card, was the cue for absolute pandemonium. As Melo walked off the pitch he was hit in the head with a glass bottle.
The Besiktas fans, literally hundreds of them, invaded the pitch and began battles with the Turkish police and security personnel. Stewards and police were the target of some vicious attacks. The match actually had to be abandoned in injury time such was the scale of the violence. At the time of writing this the Turkish Football Federation had not yet commented on the incident.
Turkish football is still reeling from the news which has seen Istanbul clubs Besiktas and Fenerbahce both suspended from European football competitions. The Besiktas fans have developed a fearsome reputation for being anti-establishment, as their Bazar & Carsi firm supporters, which are their main hooligan groups, led or supported a large proportion of the civil unrest against Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government (although to be fair other Istanbul clubs were also involved) this summer. Some of the social media speculation is suggesting those who invaded the pitch are pro-AKP government fans from a newly formed fans group 1453 Eagle Group, intent on causing problems for the secularist Bazar and Carsi fans in retaliation to them standing up to Erdogan in the summer unrest. All very political indeed.
The game was seen by over 70,000 fans and it is worth noting that visiting fans are banned from the Olympic Stadium, scene of Liverpool’s famous Champions League victory against AC Milan.
The pictures tell their own story and I am sure we have not heard the last of this yet.