Turkey has been the target of barbaric terrorist attacks for a year and a half, including a failed coup attempt, and last Saturday barbarians targeted us again. This time, they chose a football stadium as a target, and we lost 38 people, mostly police officers. Throughout this bloody period, the country has put up heroic resistance, and did not bow down to these barbarians. I know that it seems almost impossible to talk about football right now, but there is much more to football than what we immediately think. Fan groups are probably the most widespread social networks in Turkey and whatever happens in football has a huge impact on the country. Thus, if we have to stand firm, united and confident against barbarians, we simply cannot ignore the power of football. Take Galatasaray winger Yasin Öztekin's goal celebration one day after the attack, when Öztekin hugged the police officers between the pitch and fans, almost the entire country felt as if they were hugged, and relieved of their stress for at least that moment. I am sorry to say that, but there are very few professions where you can make such an impact through your actions. This country adores football and football players more than probably any political party in Turkey, and in the last decade fan groups made up a huge part of political rallies or demonstrations. If people can gather around and stand united with their football teams so easily, which Turkey needs most right now, why cannot we use this power to build a new social life in Turkey? If you are skeptical about this view, just point out a social organization as strong as fan groups in Turkey, then I will withdraw my suggestion.
However, unfortunately there has not been any attempts by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) or politicians to make football truly the people's game. It is so sad to see football still being ruled by shrewd businessmen while many social, political and economic areas in Turkey have been given to the service of the people. As Hegel said, our aim should be making this world our world, and all of the struggles Turkey has undergone in this bloody period were about self-determination, dignity and independence. Therefore, I demand the same values in football too, and I guarantee you I am not the only one. This great power in football is now divided with factions that conflict with each other. Only by giving football to the people can we achieve the social unity we want in the world of football.
I have some suggestions that will have different effects on the social, political and economic life of Turkish football. First of all, we should liberate the Turkish football economy from the greedy executives by implementing strict financial regulations and holding individuals legally responsible for the club's financial situation and debt. Without breaking the tyranny of these executives and kicking out the corruption, Turkish football can never be embraced by the masses.
Secondly, the TFF should stop being blind to everything other than the Super League and the national team, and should do their real job, organizing the youth leagues and amateur leagues. Many small clubs waste money t
hat they were granted to spend on youth, to everything except youth. In the youth leagues kids play football with insufficient equipment and unprofessional coaches. Sometimes, even when I was playing at that level, kids have to pay for their license fees etc. If the TFF does its job as it should do, the quality of football, the bonds between local football communities and love of football in young generations will be much stronger.
Thirdly, we should make fan groups more active in social projects and local communities. Fans from different teams should not just see each other in violent and stressful games, they should gather to discuss Turkish football in forums arranged by the TFF to be an active participant of the administration of football. Without having brainstorming events, we cannot make Turkish football truly the people's game with a strong bond with the unity of the people. There can be many other suggestions too, but these are three problems Turkish football needs to solve right now. If they do not, football might only momentarily show its face, and Öztekin's hug will be forgotten.