"I do not even want to describe what happened," said the commentator, as he watched the replay of Beşiktaş coach Şenol Güneş hitting the ground.
The Istanbul derby between Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş Thursday was suspended after Güneş was hit in the head by an object thrown by a yet unidentified Fenerbahçe fan. Within minutes of the incident, thousands of conspiracy theories, some even claiming the involvement of terrorist groups, appeared out of nowhere.
Do not get me wrong, I am not underestimating the dangers Turkey face right now and I am certainly not an expert in that field.
However, one thing is for sure that this barbaric side of Turkish football has clearly been evident since the 1980s when stadiums became more and more radicalized. What happened Thursday night was just another example of hooligan terror in Turkish football.
First of all, we must remember that the games between Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş have always been tense, just like any other derby in Turkey. This season they have faced each other four times, and all of them have had brawls on and off the pitch while the only one did not see any red cards.
It is understandable to a certain point why these games have been tense since both teams are competing for the Turkish League title and the Turkish Cup. One the thing I do not understand, however, is that even after introducing Passolig, an identity card system for fans, how this kind of outrageous incidents can still take place? How come people who terrorize football matches and stadiums are still allowed to be there? I hold Turkish Football Federation responsible for these incidents until they take necessary actions and precautions.
Unfortunately, the hot topic in Turkish football at the moment is not this act of hooliganism but conspiracy theories. No one has mentioned about the toxic nature of football hooliganism and its consequences. This hooligan culture is so strong that anyone who targets it is also targeted by these hooligans. Criticize hooliganism in a Turkish team, and you are now the enemy of the team regardless of the accuracy of your comments. Thus, columnists and journalists have created a language that targets no one, criticizes no one, as if some aliens invaded the Turkish stadiums and they terrorized the fields.
No, gentlemen, let us name the issue: Turkish football is suffering from chronic hooliganism that derives its power from our fear to target its toxic, macho culture. As people working in the football industry, we must take a firm stance against hooliganism and reject all forms of it. Except for Italy, no developed European country suffers from this issue as much as we do. If England did it, so can Turkey.
Let us launch a new program that not only targets hooliganism in stadiums but also builds a new football culture based on peace, respect and understanding. The main reason why this toxic culture is still alive is that the authorities do not take a firm stance against it, but it is time. Take the first step, and the Turkish people will follow.