The upward trend in Turkey's tourism industry has also benefited the country's football industry. The number of foreign sports fans purchasing Passolig cards and watching matches in Turkish stadiums over the last two seasons is about 132,000.
Foreigners from 90 countries have purchased Passolig cards, with Germans leading the way, a report in Turkish daily Hürriyet said. One of the heavyweights of Turkish football, Galatasaray, stands out as the first choice of foreign fans, while Istanbulspor, a 1st division team, surprised all, having the greatest number of foreign fans right after the big four, Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor.
In the meantime, the Fenerbahçe-Beşiktaş derby match at Ülker Stadium this season was followed by the most foreign football lovers to date. According to Passolig data, an electronic ticketing system, the number of foreigners who applied for a card to enter the matches as of the 2016-2017 season increased as of last year with about 33,068 foreign supporters acquired the Passolig card. However, foreign interest in Turkey's top-tier Spor Toto Super League and the 1st division made a big leap last season. The revival of the tourism sector, especially in the second half of last year, boosted the number of foreign supporters. During one season, 60,000 foreign fans purchased Passolig cards.
This season, although it's just the 15th week, about 38,000 supporters from around the world have taken seats in Turkish stadiums, and the number is expected to reach 65,000 by the end of the season. Galatasaray was the first choice of foreign fans in the first 15-week period: about 10,928 foreign fans followed matches of the Istanbul giant. Another Istanbul powerhouse, Beşiktaş, ranked second as 5,475 foreign fans followed matches of the white-and-black side at Vodafone Park this season. Fenerbahçe, which lagged due to league defeats so far this year, ranked third. Around 4,469 foreigners watched Fenerbahçe's matches in their stadium. Trabzonspor was fourth, as 1,692 foreign supporters watched matches of the Black Sea side, followed by 1st division team Istanbulspor with 1,395 foreign football lovers.
The Istanbul derby between Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş was the match most followed by foreigners this season. While more than 40,000 fans watched the match at Ülker Stadium, 1,462 were foreigners, coming from 61 countries.