Why is Turkish football so obsessed with referees?

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published

Atrending topic right now deals with usual scapegoats of Turkish football - and the only ones who are never able to speak up for themselves: Referees. I do not know whether there is any other country where people discuss referees more than they discuss football itself. Yes, every referee is disputed from time to time, but in no place other than Turkey there is such systematic stigmatizing of referees - at least not to my knowledge. Then the question is why does Turkish football love harassing referees this much?

To understand the matter better, we should talk about the people who are to blame, not the people who are being blamed. It is usually not the coaches or players who you usually see in after-game shows, complaining about the referees in other countries. In Turkey, the usual suspects of referee blaming are football executives. They are the ones claiming that referees steal their team's hard work, or there is a conspiracy against their club done by some mysterious forces. What they get in return is a fan base full of hatred for the referees, while forgetting the poor management of their team.

The executives that run football clubs in Turkey are not professionals, they do not come to the top positions in clubs with an impressive background in football administration. They are simply rich people who like football, thinking that they know football and the football administration very well. Do not get me wrong, it is not only in Turkey that people with no football background buy or run clubs, but there are also lots of big clubs like that in Europe as well. But the difference is that in Turkey, real professionals who possess the knowledge and the skill to run a club are undermined by these executives. Thus, most clubs in Turkey are administered poorly.

I think you can guess where this poor administration leads to - a poor financial status. Having a poor financial status was not a big deal for Turkish clubs until Financial Fair Play kicked in since regulations in Turkey do not hold individuals responsible for a club's financial status. For example, if you run a club for four years, spend all the money on transfers and leave the club full of debt afterward, then you are not responsible for the debt. But with Financial Fair Play and worsening conditions, they cannot make "sensational" transfers to compensate for the poor administration. Therefore, a poor financial status now directly leads to poor results.

At that point, with no hope in sight, there is but one group of people executives can blame to distract fans: Referees. As if a game is not 90 minutes and there are not many opportunities, executives select a position where the referee of the game made a wrong decision and claim that there is a conspiracy against them. Why fans so willingly accept these claims as valid is another topic but since fans agree with the executives, the problem is still there. The only solution to this problem is to have stricter regulations and more transparency so that no one can easily blame referees of conspiring against them without any proof.

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