Last Sunday’s game between Süper Lig leaders Galatasaray and Trabzonspor was supposed to be the showcase match for Turkish football, wrapping up this half of the domestic season. Unfortunately the match, which ended in a stalemate will be remembered less for the football played between two of Turkey’s better teams but rather yet another unsavoury incident that has blighted football this year across the globe. Since the launching of this blog back in September, we have featured a story of similar nature every month that not only gives football a bad name but highlights a growing problem within the game that UEFA or FIFA has been unable to resolve. In past blogs, we have talked about several types of objects being thrown from the stands onto the pitch such as coins at the recent Manchester derby, firecrackers in Russia that blinded Dynamo goalkeeper Anton Shunin and even unbelievably a live grenade that was found with a player who luckily threw it from the pitch, moments before it exploded.
The latest incident to mare football saw yet another object, a smoke bomb this time, thrown from the stands injuring two players in the process. The drama unfolded in the second half as Galatasary striker Burak Yilmaz, a former Trabzonspor player, broke free of the defence only to drag his shot wide of the goal. As he turned to make his way back to the centre circle, he was apparently struck by an object (apparently a water bottle) thrown by the Trabzonspor fans. When Yilmaz fell to the floor clutching his head, Trabzonspor defender Gircay Kaçar went over to check on his international teammate. As he bent over to see if the stricken striker was ok, a second object, this time a smoke bomb was thrown at the pair, exploding inches from the duo sending both scrambling for safety. The footage of the incident shows several objects being thrown including lighters, plastic cups and coins ruling out the possibility of this being a single hooligan in the crowd.
As police moved in, Galatasaray midfielder and captain Hamit Altıntop pleaded with the crowd for calm, repeated angrily pointing to the Turkish flag on his shirt as if to say to the crowd that we are all Turkish. Medical staff helped both injured players off the pitch treatment and luckily both managed to return to the match later on to finish the game. There has yet to be any sort of reaction or statement from the Turkish FA, UEFA or FIFA but as incidents like this grow in their frequency, action is needed to protect the players and the game itself. Suggestions of bringing back terraces and football nets in front of stands have been suggested as improvements to the game in recent months but do not solve the core issue of why these so-called fans are looking to disrupt the games they attend and harm the players who are there to entertain them? FIFA and the individual countries need to act swiftly to avoid further incidents like this from happening in an attemp to prevent one of these events ending up as a fatality.
To see the incident, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZDkExeYUio