Protests have erupted in Turkey following the cancellation of the Supercoppa final match between Turkish football clubs Galatasaray and Fenerbahce. The reason behind the cancellation is tied to the centenary celebrations of the Turkish Republic and the figure of Ataturk – the founder of the modern Turkish nation, who the opposition to President Erdogan claims has become a “bargaining chip”.
The match was due to be held in Saudi Arabia as part of a political de-escalation strategy between the two countries. However, Saudi Arabian authorities prevented the display of banners and T-shirts bearing references to Ataturk. Furthermore, authorities rejected the banner “Peace at home, peace in the world,” that the two teams intended to bring onto the field. This resulted in both teams, known for their historic rivalry, mutually deciding not to take part in the match.
Following criticisms directed at him, Turkey’s President Erdogan hit back at his opponents. He reportedly stated that exploiting a sporting event for political purposes is “wrong, misleading, and unproductive.” Quoted as saying, “You should not misuse what is essentially a sporting event. The entire world knows how we defend the honour of Turkey and Turkish people,” Erdogan firmly declared his stance against merging politics with sports activities.