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.
Beşiktaş'ımızın oynayacağı maç öncesi HÜKÜMET İSTİFA sesleri yükseldi.— Emrah Uzun🎶🎙🎬 (@UzunEmrah45) February 26, 2023
Korku dağları yıkıldıkça yıkılıyor... pic.twitter.com/Xwh046HrCn
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.
Bütün kulüp başkanlarının müsabakaların ya seyircisiz ya da gerekli tedbirlerin alınarak oynanması hususunda acil ve gerekli adımları atmaları kaçınılmaz görevleridir. Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi konunun takipçisidir.— Devlet Bahçeli (@dbdevletbahceli) February 26, 2023
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.
Kamuoyuna saygıyla… pic.twitter.com/JBWAAOCYLM— Dr. Mehmet Kasapoğlu (@kasapoglu) February 27, 2023
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.
Football fans of #Besiktas throw toys to the pitch in honour of thousands of children killed in the #earthquake, followed by chants calling the govn to resign. Govn’s defacto partner MHP’s leader calls for matches to be played in empty stadiums in response pic.twitter.com/LBmXDU1FW7— Selin Girit (@selingirit) February 26, 2023
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.