Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 2 commented on the Super Cup controversy and called it a “sabotage operation of foreign powers” supported by opposition political parties in Turkey during the 2023 foreign trade overview presentation in the capital Ankara province.
The Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe teams refused to play the final match that was to take place on Dec. 29 in Riyadh after Saudi Arabian officials did not allow Turkish flags and banners with images of Turkish Republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the arena.
Opposition politicians interpreted the ordeal as an insult to Turkey’s honor. They heavily criticized Saudi officials and the Turkish Football Federation who accepted Saudi Arabia’s proposal to host the final match in Riyadh.
Erdoğan accused the opposition politicians of taking part in the “Islamophobic and xenophobic craze” for publicity.
“It is no coincidence that the wave of hatred is targeting one of our biggest trade partners, our brother country,” stated Erdoğan and defined the event as a “sly operation, a clear sabotage attempt against Turkey.”
An example of the xenophobic reactions to the Super Cup controversy was the billboards put up in Bolu Province by Mayor Tanju Özcan that called Saudi Arabian officials “desert rat bedouins." A Turkish court on Jan. 2 took off the billboards and launched an investigation.