Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR 

Turkey has prevented the Chinese tech giant Huawei from sponsoring Dalkurd FF, a football team based in Uppsala, Sweden made up of Kurds from the southeastern Turkish province of Mardin, according to the club’s chairman Ramazan Kızıl. 

“Turkey doesn’t want us to compete against one of the teams in their league,” Kızıl said, adding that the governments of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, the four countries with large Kurdish populations, have taken precautions to prevent Dalkurd FF from playing against teams in those countries. 

“Turkey does not want one of our sponsors to be someone living in their country,” Kızıl said, and the government interfering with the Huawei sponsorship indicates that it does not want the team receiving assistance from other countries as well. 

Kızıl said that Huawei had given the team $40,000 two years ago in exchange for them writing the name of the company on their jerseys. 

“Four months later they called us and said: ‘the money is yours. Turkey spoke with us about this issue, and said that if we become your sponsor, they will shut down our operations in Turkey’,” Kızıl said, adding that this is not the first time they have faced such issues. 

“We do not hope for help from Turkey, because they reject the Kurds. They won’t accept our name, our team, and our flag. But regardless of how much they deny us we will protect ourselves, and explain this to our children and grandchildren,” Kızıl said. 

The club beat the Gothenburg-based GAIS club and advanced to Sweden’s first league in 2017, and Kızıl said that its goals are to attain success in European championships. 

“The Turkish state does not want us to attend European cup matches, because we can encounter [Turkish teams] there. They are even afraid of this possibility, and they won’t accept it. For this reason, they are doing whatever they can to stop us,” Kızıl said.