Turkish Football Federation might force clubs to play without fans after slogans of 'gov't resign'

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) is weighing on the option of not allowing fans to come to the matches after the chants of "government resign" raised from the tribunes of Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş stadiums over the weekend. MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has targeted the fans and announced his resignation from his membership from Beşiktaş Sports Club. 

Duvar English 

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) has invited the Union of Clubs to a meeting to discuss a "league without fans" after football fans' slogans chanting for the resignation of government officials, according to reporting by sports newspaper Fotospor. 

The meeting request came after Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli targeted the football fans over their chants raised from the tribunes before the Fenerbahçe-Konyaspor match and then the Beşiktaş-Antalyaspor match. 

In a Twitter post, Bahçeli described the protests as "irresponsible and unconscious" and demanded action from club administrations. He argued that “football clubs have been tricked and trapped" and also announced his resignation from his membership in Beşiktaş club. 

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officially similarly targeted the fans over the chantings, with Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu describing the protests in the stadiums as a "provocation."

“Sports arenas are not spaces for politics. Sports competitions are not centers of political production. Using sports as a tool for politics has no other consequence than undermining unity and solidarity,” he wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. 

One day after Fenerbahçe fans called for government officials to resign, a similar call came from Beşiktaş fans at the tribunes. At the Feb. 26-dated match, thousands of fans threw thousands of toys to the pitch to be sent to the quake zone. 

Meanwhile, an inspector from the TFF who observed the Fenerbahçe match on Feb. 25 demanded that the issue be discussed at the Professional Football Disciplinary Board (PFDK) for "ugly and bad cheering" under Article 53 of the Football Disciplinary Regulations, according to reporting by Fotospor. If this demand is accepted, the club might receive a penalty of temporarily closing the tribunes. 

The Turkish government is facing fierce criticism over its inadequate response to rescue and search efforts in the aftermath of two deadly earthquakes in the southeastern region on Feb. 6.