ECHR fines Turkey for violating rights of Diyarbakır football team, former player Deniz Naki

The ECHR on May 18 ruled that Turkey violated the freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial of Amedspor, the football team of the Kurdish-majority province of Diyarbakır, and its former player Deniz Naki. In 2016, the Turkish Football Federation had fined Amedspor 19,500 liras and given a 12-game ban to Naki over the latter's social media post criticizing the government operations in southeastern Turkey.

This file photo shows footballer Deniz Naki while playing for Amedspor.

Duvar English

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on May 18 ordered Turkey to pay 8,058 euros in compensation to Amedspor, the football team of the Kurdish-majority province of Diyarbakır, and its former player Deniz Naki over violation of freedom of expression and right to a fair trial.

The case concerns the sports sanctions and financial penalties imposed on Amedspor and Naki by the Arbitration Committee of the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) on account of statements made on social media.

Following Amedspor's victory against Bursaspor in 2016, Naki took to social media and devoted his team's success to those who were killed or injured during the government's operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey.

In return, the TTF gave a 12-game ban to Naki and handed a total of 19,500 liras in fines to Amedspor on the grounds that the footballer's post was “ideological propaganda and violated sportsmanship.”

As the decisions of the TTF's Arbitration Committee are not subject to domestic judicial review, Amedspor took the case to the ECHR.

In its ruling on May 18, the ECHR said that the applicants should be awarded jointly 6,058 euros in pecuniary damages, this sum corresponding to the amount of the disciplinary fine imposed on Amedspor.

The court also awarded 2,000 euros to Naki and 6,000 euros to Amedspor in non-pecuniary damages.

Naki was also the subject of a criminal investigation in Turkey over his social media post in question. In 2017, he was handed an 18 month suspended jail sentence on charges of “promoting terror propaganda.”