We’ve felt an overwhelming longing to hear stadiums’ voices. We miss the league. We miss it so much. And the longing is finally over. The SporToto Super League marathon has started. This season had a significant start for Turkish football, there are good stories including nationalism, globalisation and the power of media so let’s start!
Like most nations, Turkish people started to become interested in football at the beginning of the 1900’s. First Turkish and foreign clubs were established. During the years of the occupation of Istanbul by the Allied Power (including British Empire, France and Italy), people in Istanbul struggled in football as well as in other fields of work. General Harrington Cup was one of them. The Commander of Allied forces, General Harrington organised a single match between Turkish club, Fenerbahce and a team composed of soldiers and professional English players. On that day, Fenerbahce’s players played with national pride and the match ended in a 2-1 for the Turkish side.
We loved football more and we believed we played football very well. We thought we had the most talented and the better players. However, we didn’t know we were living in a frame we created. We noticed that when Turkish clubs and the Turkish national team were defeated in Europe and international cups, because TV wasn’t everywhere like it is today, mostly just in middle class homes, not everybody knew about the results, which is why our football culture was very limited and stayed inside the country’s borders.
The milestone was 1980 and Neo-Liberal politics debut. The World started to become a village. People called this “Globalisation”. It meant a lot as popular culture grew, things that were included in ‘popular culture’ included popular music, popular clothing, McDonald’s, Nike, Michael Jackson and “FOOTBALL”. We sympathised with some countries and players such as Brazil, Maradona, the legends of Milan in Gullit, Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard. In short, we started to follow World football.
Football was industrializing in Europe but Turkey had dropped behind. At least we could see how football was changing thanks to globalisation and the media and we had to change. Some world star players moved to Turkey, for instance, Gheorghe Hagi, Ariel Ortega, Gheorghe Popescu, Mario Jardel, Jay Jay Okocha, Roberto Carlos, Nicolas Anelka, Guti, and many more names I could not count. Also, many Turkish players transferred to Europe such as Nihat Kahveci to Real Sociedad, Hami Mandirali to Schalke 04, Tugay Kerimoglu to Rangers (after that Blackburn Rovers), Alpay Ozalan to Aston Villa, Okan Buruk to Inter, Umit Davala to Milan, Emre Belozoglu to Inter etc. For the first time, a Turkish team (Galatasaray) won UEFA Cup, the Turkish National Team took third place in the World Cup of 2002. Fenerbahce and Galatasaray reached to the quarter-final of Champions League. Thus, the story of Turkish football has come a long way.
Let’s go back to the beginning of my piece. I said this season is an important season for Turkey. This is because last year BeIN Media Group bought broadcasting rights of Turkish Super League and this year the league broadcasts live in nearly 100 countries in English. From whence we came and to where we will return.
Now not only will we watch the world but also the world can finally watch us.