Approximately four months ago, Republic of Turkey had a constitutional referendum. The citizens would have chosen “yes” which meant “I want Turkey to be governed with the presidential system and one man focused ” or “no” which meant “I want Turkey to keep being governed with the parliamentary system.” I think you are asking yourself why he is talking about that. Turkish history has lots of charismatic leaders such as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The masses support them blindly. I am not interrogating this situation. This piece is about football, Turkey and Fenerbahce, not politics.
Istanbul Sukru Saracoglu Stadium hosted Fenerbahce-Trabzonspor match last Sunday. The home team, Fenerbahce, drew 2-2 with Trabzonspor. Fener’s fans had hopes for the new season, but the season didn’t have a solid start for Fenerbahce. Last week, they, taking winning the game for granted, were defeated against the Macedonian team Vardar and they have made heavy weather of the UEFA Europa League group stage. The opposing voices began to rise. The Turkish club have been suffering from instability and chaos for several years. Sports instability, squad instability, manager instability and success instability… Besides all these, the fans were divided into two parts; the chairman’s supporters and non-supporters. Last season lots of fans boycotted to go to the stadium because they got tired of the chairman’s management. In the era of the chairman Aziz Yildirim, Fenerbahce turned into a sports club. Many athletes from various branches became world and Turkey champions. Fenerbahce basketball team won the Euroleague. Not only these successes of different branches but also the club had new facilities. A new arena was built for the basketball team. The football team’s stadium was extended. All of these investments brought success for many branches, but not football. For many fans, the reason is clear. The chairman Aziz Yildirim interferes with the football team too much. He is the only man. Arthur Zico, the manager who reached the Quarter Final of Champions League with Fenerbahce, was fired. Ersun Yanal, the manager who won the league title, was fired. That’s why the fans want him to leave Fenerbahce’s chairmanship.
On the other hand, as for other fans, he is a legend for the club. In the 2011 Turkish sports corruption scandal, he stood upright and protected Fenerbahce. He was in prison for 1 year for Fenerbahce and then was acquitted. That day, people saw that he loves Fenerbahce so much. Shortly after, some fans still support him blindly because he is a charismatic leader and these fans don’t interrogate him.
Let’s go back to the beginning of my piece. Why did I talk about Turkey’s political situation? 16 years ago, a sports writer passed away. His name is Islam Cupi. He had a famous saying. “In Turkey, if Fenerbahce is healthy and successful, in this country everything is happy and peaceful. Artisans are happy. Theaters, cinemas, bars are full. If Fenerbahce is not around, Turkey is not there, there is no football, there is no abundance, there are no people, people breathe hard, and this country will soon become a cemetery after being a living place. Fenerbahce’s greatness is neither championship greatness nor cup greatness. Their greatness is a different greatness. It cannot be named.”
Fenerbahce is Turkey. Turkey is Fenerbahce. If you look at Fenerbahce’s issues, you see Turkey’s issues. By the way, the referendum resulted with 51% “Yes” and 49% “No”. Exactly like the sharp contrast in Fenerbahce, people are divided into two parts: “Supporters blindly and strong opposition”.