Turk­ish soc­cer body pe­nal­izes Kur­dish club

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

A Turk­ish Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion (TFF) decision to pe­nal­ize a third tier soc­cer club in the pre­dom­i­nantly Kur­dish city of Di­yarbakir for adopt­ing a Kur­dish name re­flects mount­ing ten­sion in south-east­ern Turkey. The ten­sion is fu­elled by the re­al­iza­tion that Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan is un­likely to make ma­jor con­ces­sions be­fore par­lia­men­tary elec­tions this sum­mer in peace talks to which both Turkey and Kur­dish in­sur­gents re­main com­mit­ted and al­leged ef­forts by some el­e­ments of the state to sab­o­tage the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The fed­er­a­tion charged that the club long known by its Turk­ish name, Di­yarbakir Büyük­se­hir Belediye­spor (Di­yarbakir Met­ro­pol­i­tan Sport), had changed its name to the Kur­dish Amed­spor and had adopted the yel­low, red and green Kur­dish colours in its em­blem with­out the soc­cer body’s ap­proval. Amed is the long banned Kur­dish name for Di­yarbakir, the un­of­fi­cial Turk­ish Kur­dish cap­i­tal. The fed­er­a­tion said the club had also failed to reg­is­ter its new name.

Kurds in Turkey, who ac­count for any­where be­tween 10 and 23 per­cent of Turkey’s pop­u­la­tion, have long been re­stricted in the use of their lan­guages. Turkey has so far been re­luc- tant to con­cede in the peace talks to Kur­dish de­mands that sec­ondary school ed­u­ca­tion in the pre­dom­i­nantly Kur­dish south­east be ad­min­is­tered in a Kur­dish lan­guage.

Kur­dish na­tion­al­ists com­plain that talks be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the Kur­dish Work­ers Party (PKK), the guer­rilla group that has de­clared a cease­fire in its 30-year war to al­low ne­go­ti­a­tions to go for­ward that Ankara has so far made only min­i­mal con­ces­sions like al­low­ing the use of let­ters in the Kur­dish al­pha­bet that do not ex­ist in Turk­ish. Some 40,000 peo­ple are be­lieved to have been killed in the PKK in­sur- gency.

Amed­spor has re­jected the $4,300 fine im­posed by the fed­er­a­tion and vowed to fight the decision. The in­ci­dent con­sti­tutes one of sev­eral in re­cent months in which as­ser­tions of Kur­dish na­tional iden­tity have spilt onto the soc­cer pitch.

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