Ven­er­a­ble Istanbul foot­ball side with op­po­si­tion streak

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Be­sik­tas foot­ball club of Istanbul, is one of Turkey’s old­est sports or­gan­i­sa­tions with an im­pas­sioned fan base known for their op­po­si­tion to the au­thor­i­ties.

Twenty nine peo­ple, mainly po­lice of­fi­cers, were killed on Saturday in dou­ble attacks out­side its sta­dium that fol­lowed the club’s home Su­per Lig match against Bur­sas­por in the brand new Voda­fone Arena opened ear­lier this year.

Be­sik­tas won the match 2-1, boost­ing its ti­tle hopes to make the club joint lead­ers with lo­cal ri­vals Basak­se­hir. But now the night of De­cem­ber 10, 2016 will be re­mem­bered not for foot­ball but for a tragedy that will for­ever leave a mark on the club’s his­tory, which goes back to the Ot­toman Em­pire. So far no-one has claimed the bomb­ings. “Ter­ror­ists... at­tacked our heroic se­cu­rity forces who en­sure that both our fans and Bur­sas­por’s sup­port­ers are safe. We will stand firm against the vile at­tack­ers who will never achieve their goal,” the club said in a state­ment.

The club said that among those killed was Vefa Karakurdu, a se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer in charge of se­cu­rity at games who was a mem­ber of its congress, and Tunc Uncu who worked at its of­fi­cial mer­chan­dise shop.

The attacks took place around the perime­ter of the gleam­ing new sta­dium that is the pride and joy of the club’s fans who call their beloved side the Kara Kar­tal (Black Ea­gle). Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Erdogan had in April in­au­gu­rated the brand new wa­ter­front sta­dium on the Bospho­rus and the team has played to packed stands ever since.

Be­sik­tas in 2013 played for the last time at their old sta­dium in the same his­toric lo­ca­tion on the shores of the Bospho­rus just above the Ot­toman-era Dolmabahce Palace.

That sta­dium-which was named af­ter the sec­ond pres­i­dent of mod­ern Turkey Is­met Inonu-was knocked down and the over 40,000 ca­pac­ity Voda­fone Arena built in its place.


The club was founded as a gym­nas­tics club un­der the Ot­toman Em­pire in 1903 and its full name is still Be­sik­tas Gym­nas­tics Club (BJK). Its fo­cus rapidly be­came foot­ball but like most Turk­ish clubs it proudly re­mains a multi-sports club. The club’s fa­mously leftist and anti­estab­lish­ment fan club Carsi are seen as nat­u­ral foes of Erdogan and like to chant slo­gans against his rule.

Carsi mem­bers played a key role in 2013 protests against Erdogan over the de­vel­op­ment of an Istanbul park that rep­re­sented one of the big­gest chal­lenges to the Turk­ish strong­man.

Thirty five mem­bers of the group were put on trial on widely-ridiculed charges of try­ing to stage a coup but all were ac­quit­ted in late De­cem­ber 2015.

To the amuse­ment of fans, the April 4 open­ing of the sta­dium did not take place at a game but at a cer­e­mony in front of al­most empty stands. Some said this was due to fears Erdogan could be booed by fans at a match.

The club won the Su­per Lig ti­tle last sea­son with its star player Mario Gomez of Ger­many who was top scorer in the Su­per Lig.

But Gomez shat­tered fans by leav­ing in the close sea­son, say­ing he could not carry on due to the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the wake of the failed July 15 coup.

Lu­mi­nar­ies from the past of Be­sik­tas in­clud­ing English for­mer man­ager Gor­don Milne, 79, who guided the club in a stel­lar pe­riod from 1987-1994, and tak­ing con­sec­u­tive ti­tles in 1990, 1991 and 1992. The club’s fans are also known for their ir­rev­er­ent hu­mour in­clud­ing slo­gans like “it’s not about you and me, it’s Be­sik­tas!”.

— AP

MAR­SEILLE: Yuzuru Hanyu of Ja­pan, left, cel­e­brates his gold medal with Shoma Uno of Ja­pan with bronze medal af­ter the Men Skat­ing Pro­gram dur­ing ISU Grand Prix of Fig­ure Skat­ing Fi­nal in Mar­seille, south­ern France, Saturday.

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