Turkish Super Cup final postponed amid ‘T-shirt row’on December 30, 2023 at 10:44 am

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The Galatasaray-Fenerbahce match is called off after the scheduled kick-off because of a disagreement with authorities in Saudi Arabia.

Galatasaray and Fenerbahce fans inside Al-Awwal Stadium

The match was scheduled to kick off at 17.45 GMT but, with thousands of fans inside Riyadh’s Al-Awwal Stadium, it was called off at 19:00.

The Turkish Football Federation and the clubs blamed “problems in organising” the match after authorities refused banners referring to the revered father of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Galatasaray and Fenerbahce were expected to arrive for the showpiece between Turkey’s league champions and cup winners with banners bearing Ataturk’s words “Peace at home, peace in the world”, which the Saudi authorities would not allow.

The players were also not allowed on to the pitch wearing T-shirts bearing Ataturk’s image.

Ataturk launched a programme of revolutionary social and political reform to modernise Turkey, serving as its first president from 1923 until his death in 1938.

These reforms included the emancipation of women, the abolition of all Islamic institutions and the introduction of Western legal codes, dress, calendar and alphabet, replacing the Arabic script with a Latin one.

Senior officials at Galatasaray and Fenerbahce held a meeting with Turkish Football Federation (TFF) president Mehmet Buyukeksi before the decision was announced.

The joint statement by the TFF and the clubs said: “We, together with our clubs, have collectively decided on this delay.

“We express our gratitude to the football federation of the host country and the relevant institutions for their efforts in organising the Super Cup so far.”

The Riyadh Season, organisers of the match, said: “We were looking forward to holding the match on time in accordance with the international soccer rules and regulations that require the sport to be presented without any slogans outside its scope, especially since this was discussed with the Turkish federation in the framework of the preparatory meetings for the match.

“Despite this agreement, it was unfortunate that the two teams did not adhere to what had been agreed upon, which led to the match not being held.”

Fenerbahce fans gathered outside Sabih Gokcen airport

Both teams returned to Turkey on Saturday and were welcomed home by hundreds of cheering fans who gathered outside Istanbul and Sabiha Gokcen airports, waving Turkish flags and holding pictures of Ataturk.

The decision to hold the match in Saudi Arabia had been criticised in Turkey, given 2023 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the modern Turkish Republic.

Turkish Super Lig clubs Samsunspor and Besiktas called for the match to be played at their stadiums.

In mid-December all Turkish leagues were suspended after referee Halil Umut Meler was assaulted by MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca.

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