Turkish Super Cup match to be played in Saudi Arabia canceled after censorship over Atatürk

The Turkish Super Cup final match to be played in Saudi Arabia's Riyadh on Dec. 29 was canceled after the country refused any quote or image of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Turkish Republic’s founder, to be displayed during the match. After this decision, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe refused to play the final match.

Duvar English

Turkish Super League teams Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe on Dec. 29 refused to play the Super Cup final match in Saudi Arabia's Riyadh after the country did not allow any quote or image of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Turkish Republic’s founder, to be displayed hours before the match.

The teams are planning to return to Turkey after the censorship over Atatürk in the centennial of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey. The match was scheduled to start at 8.45 p.m. Turkish local time.

During the day, Fenerbahçe chair Ali Koç said the Saudi Arabian officials did not allow their banner with an Atatürk quote to be displayed.

The Saudi Arabia police entered Fenerbahçe’s dressing room and confiscated the banner which read Atatürk’s remark of “Peace at home, peace in the world,” Habertürk reported.

Turkish Youth and Sports Minister Osman Aşkın Bak, Turkish Football Federation (TFF) head Mehmet Büyükekşi, Galatasaray chair Dursun Özbek and Fenerbahçe chair Ali Koç held a meeting regarding the issue during the day. During the long meeting, no progress could be made with the Saudi authorities and therefore the match was canceled.

Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray team players did not leave the hotel where they were camping to go to the stadium.

In a joint statement, the federation and the teams said they decided to postpone the match to a later date "due to some problems in the organization."

"We would like to thank the host country's Football Association, relevant institutions and organizations for their efforts so far for the organization of the Super Cup," it added.

The social media users, sports commentators, and opposition politicians shared their support messages to both teams for their decision to not play the match.

Both clubs previously expressed their desire the play the match in Turkey in the centennial of the foundation of the Republic, but the Federation is said to accepted the Saudi Arabia's proposal because of the money offered.

"Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray defended Turkey's honor against those who negotiated with the Saudi government over Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. I invite all our people to welcome our teams back to Istanbul with photos of Atatürk and Turkish flags," main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) head Özgür said in a social media post.

"Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is the founding leader and common value of our country. We thank all our citizens who show sensitivity about Atatürk," the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Spokesperson Ömer Çelik said.