Turkish rivals Galatasaray and Besiktas renewed acquaintances today in Istanbul, the city both teams call home.
It did not end well, as the match was abandoned with Galatasaray ahead 2-1 with two minutes remaining in stoppage time. Galatasaray midfielder Felipe Melo appeared to incite the riot with a late red card, which set off scuffles in the stands with supporters and security personnel.
Melo appeared to fan the flames as he flashed his jersey over his head while walking off the field. Things devolved fairly quickly from there as the fans spilled onto the field — many wielding chairs — as the players and officials fled for the safety of the dressing room.
Turkish soccer, despite the influx of many big names like Didier Drogba, continues to draw bad headlines. In late August the third Istanbul giant, Fenerbahce, saw its ban from European competitions for match-fixing upheld.
There appears to be a political side to the riot, as Eurosport details:
The match was the first Istanbul derby of the season and follows months of civil unrest in Turkey’s largest city over government plans to demolish a city park at the central square of Taksim.
Besiktas’ politicised fan base, dubbed ‘Carsi’, was a prominent force in the anti-government protests and often clashed with police during the peak of the unrest in June.
At Sunday’s match, Besiktas fans chanted, “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance,” a popular chant from the park protest, CNN Turk reported.
Whatever the reason for the rioting, it might be a good idea to remove the plastic chairs from the stadium next time these two teams meet. Doesn’t seem very safe in light of today.