Let's save the Turkish Cup from its misery: Make it a youngsters' cup

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published

It's no secret that the Turkish Cup, like most local cups in Europe, is a financial and administrative burden on Turkish teams. The amount of money awarded for winning games, qualifying next rounds and winning the cup just pales in comparison with what clubs spend to achieve them. For instance Fenerbahçe chairman Aziz Yıldırım complained about this situation two years ago by saying "You only gain $40,000 for winning a game, but we have to pay $1.5 million just for players' wages for six games; this is a major handicap for clubs as big as us." Nevertheless, as the Europa League case shows, merely increasing the financial gains does not automatically make a competition more fruitful, productive or competitive. The Turkish Cup lacks those qualities due to its internal structure, it allows lower division teams to compete, and the games are played mostly one sided, which eventually decreases public interest. What I suggest is to put age limits on the Turkish Cup to increase competition and productivity greatly, as young players, unlike their older colleagues, rarely find a chance like this to show their skills.

Right now, the Turkish Cup's major role in Turkish football is to help teams evade player suspensions from four yellow cards by motivating players to get the last of them in the game before a Turkish Cup game. This is where we are after all the sponsorship agreements granting TL 2.5 million to the champions, and UEFA awarding a direct spot in the Europa League group stage. Added to that, another crucial issue is the difficulty scheduling Turkish Cup games, which are spread through the whole season nowadays. For teams that compete in both Super League and the European arena, there are also national team breaks -- an incredibly precious amount of time is spent on what turns out to be a total waste of time. Thirdly, almost all Turkish Super League teams use their substitute players in the Turkish Cup, making the gameplay even less charming for the audience. Thus, we find ourselves in a situation where no chairman, executive, coach, player or fan wants to stay in the first place.

What I offer is simple: Let's preserve the amount of money the organization requires, but spend it on youth. This would not only be a great opportunity for young players to seriously develop their skills, but also clubs would be relieved of the economic burden of putting senior players on the field. I promise you, if they put enough money, carefully organize the competition and properly track performances, the Turkish Cup can become a talent-producing machine that international scouts can't take their eyes off. Do you think it wouldn't get high enough ratings? Then go check the present ratings of the Turkish Cup and tell me if there is anything to lose. I believe young players do not get enough chances in Turkish football, and given the economic unimportance of the Turkish Cup, it can be the experimental stage of Turkish football, which is now completely dried in terms of talent production.

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