Altınordu, a football club from western Turkey's Izmir, will take a break from all social media channels for a month after a controversial tweet belittling their troubled opponents drew the ire of Turkish football fans.
Club President Seyit Mehmet Özkan released a statement admitting to a grave mistake by their social media and communications department before the Spor Toto 1. Lig match against their opponents Kardemir Karabükspor.
The aforementioned tweet urged the Aegean club's fans "not to give appointments to anyone for the season's first victory." This seemingly-benign tweet was met with fury by social media users, as Karabükspor previously announced that the match would be played by their youth squad since they could not issue licenses for their players amid their huge debt and administration problems.
The Black Sea club was relegated from Turkish football's top tier Spor Toto Süper Lig last season, managing to obtain only 12 points in 34 weeks. In the first three weeks in the second division, the club had to field their youth squad despite making 16 pre-season transfers, and its administration called for an emergency general board meeting to urge officials and notables in Karabük to help the club relieve its financial burden.
Altınordu's tweet came amid such an environment and was soon deleted after angry reactions. But when the match ended in a 1-1 draw against Karabükspor's youth squad, the humiliation further deepened for the Aegean club faced with a flood of ridicule online.
With a photo showing their youth squad after the match, Karabükspor also responded on its official Twitter account, saying "Altınordu FK, enjoy the show." It quickly garnered thousands of likes and retweets.
"As success is for all of us, so are mistakes. We punish ourselves. We expel ourselves for one month from social media; we won't be on social media through September. We will only post the news of our matches on our website. In this one month, we will review ourselves to become an organization matching our 'Turkey's Altınordu' slogan," Özkan said.
"We apologize to all sports community and especially to the Kardemir Karabükspor community," he added.
The draw was also bad news for Altınordu as they had an assertive start to the season with championship in their sight. The club nearly missed the playoffs last season and finished seventh.
Founded in 1923, Altınordu is often described as an exemplary football club by Turkish sports media for its heavy emphasis on youth development and world-class training facilities, a feature often lacking or underdeveloped in major Turkish clubs.
Having spent decades in top tiers of Turkish football, Altınordu relegated to amateur leagues in early 1990, where it remained for a decade, losing its fan base to fellow Izmir clubs of Altay, Göztepe and Karşıyaka.
Starting from 2003, the club re-climbed the leagues with a special emphasis on development, transferring dozens of players and investing in its facilities in the process. Over the next years, the second-tier club managed to contribute a few players to Turkey's international squad among Istanbul giants, including talents such as 17-year-old goalkeeper Berke Özer, 22-year-old defender Çağlar Söyüncü (moved to Freiburg in 2016 and Leicester City in 2018) and 21-year-old midfielder Cengiz Ünder (moved to Medipol Başakşehir in 2016 and AS Rome in 2017).