Terim, Lucescu and beyond
IN another weak display, the reeling Turkish national football team was easily defeated by Romania in an international friendly Thursday. Coach Mircea Lucescu’s team could neither physically nor mentally stamp their authority on the pitch. It was almost like the game was only played because Turkey had to play a game during the international break.
There were simply no new ideas or experiments tried by Lucescu and it seemed that he has accepted his fate as a failed coach.
Unfortunately, this is a not very unfamiliar scenario for Turkish fans. The national team has not qualified for the World Cup since 2002 and there has not been any noticeable success except reaching the European Championship semi-finals in 2008. So, the question is, as always, what is the Turkish national team going to do now? Firstly, as I have mentioned a number of times in this column, there is no apparent desire for long-term success among Turkish fans. Of course, the public is not happy with the demise of the national team, but we are so shortsighted that even a consolation victory against Romania might have boosted our morale. Given the low expectation and shortsightedness, there has been no real effort to build a strong national from Turkey’s football authorities.
However, this does not mean that fans do not want Turkey to succeed, they do. But the problem is that no one is willing to sacrifice short-term gains and bear the pain of the development phase. We always want to see the Turkish national team winning, without asking the question how it can be made possible. And therefore with very little possibility of changing the status quo and without significant pressure from the public, changing the state of Turkey’s football is almost impossible.
At this point, the real problem is with the sports media and the language of football. Even the most popular football columns, tweets and TV shows in the country follow a macho, masculine culture that uses verbally abusive arguments; constantly poisoning our conception of football. I am not saying that these should be banned or punished. Rather, we must look to channel that energy in a different way, by creating our own examples and build a football community on principles like respect, fair-play and joy.
We can pursue this new idea of football in our next tweet, next TV show or the next column. As Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” So, we must actively promote the kind of football we want to see.