Players and managers of the Cizrespor football club from the Kurdish Cizre district of Sirnak province in southeastern Turkey were subjected to racist insults before they were physically attacked by police and officials of their opponent, Bayburt Grup Ozel Idare Genclikspor (Bayburt GOI), on January 22.
The vice president of Cizrespor, Maruf Sevinc, said:
At first, the personnel of the opposing team attacked us with racist words and insults. Even though we lost 2-1, four executives of the team started a quarrel with our players in the corridor of the stadium and beat them up.
When the tension escalated, police intervened — on behalf of the instigators:
Police attacked us even more harshly with their batons, kicking and punching our footballers and coach.
Cizrespor, the victim of the racist attacks, was given a fine of 31,000 Turkish liras by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF).
Upon the declaration of this punishment by the TFF, Sevinc announced that Cizrespor will withdraw from the Turkish football league and that it will join Dalkurd FF, a Swedish football club formed by Kurdish immigrants in Sweden.
Another Kurdish team was targeted by Turkish nationalists on the same day.
A bus carrying members of the Amedspor, from the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, was attacked by Turkish fans of Konya Anadolu Selcukluspor following Amedspor’s 3-0 victory.
The team bus was attacked before it left Konya, a central Anatolian province, a stronghold of Turkish nationalist conservatives. Some windows of the bus were shattered. Amedspor was also reported to have been subjected to intimidating slogans during the encounter.
Racist violence at Turkish football matches against teams from predominantly Kurdish cities is an increasingly serious problem.
On April 25 of last year in Ankara, the Turkish football team Ankaragucu, from Ankara, lost to Amedspor. Next, the Turkish team attempted to lynch the officials of the Kurdish team. See a video of the attack here.
Around fifty supporters of the Ankaragucu team in the grandstand began beating seven Amedspor officials, including one woman, with wooden canes and iron rods. See photos of the team officials after the attack here.
Turkish fans subjected the Kurdish team to obscenities and insults throughout the match. When the Kurdish team won, its officials were threatened with lynching, physically assaulted, and some had to be hospitalized. One football player suffered brain trauma and three had their noses smashed.
“Seven or eight people attacked me that day,” Soran Haldi Mizrak, the Kurdish team’s spokesperson and lawyer, said:
They started by beating me, and then they threw me from a height of about three meters (10 feet). The footage shows only a small part of what happened there. After I fell, they continued kicking me — officials of the Ankaragucu team, the security guard of their president, and two police officers. They had their accreditation cards around their necks. They tried to murder us. Even the president of the Ankaragucu club attempted to hit us.
Amedspor was also attacked at the match with the Sivasspor Club in the central Anatolian city of Sivas on March 14 of last year. Said Mizrak:
At the end of the match, footballers of the Sivasspor took Turkish flags and gave the military greeting to their audience. Then the supporters of the team, shouting “Allahu akbar” (Allah is the greatest), raided the field.
In all of the matches since the beginning of the league, the Amedspor team has been exposed to racist slogans or attacks.
In February of last year, Deniz Naki, a star player of Amedspor, who called for peace and an end to fighting between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish military, was punished by Turkey’s Professional Football Discipline Committee (PFDK).
After Amedspor’s match with the team Bursaspor on January 31, Naki had said:
I want people not to die. I want peace to prevail. We have no remedy but to call for peace … If requesting peace means being a terrorist, I admit being the biggest terrorist.
Naki was banned for 12 games and given a fine of 19,500 Turkish Liras for “doing ideological propaganda” and “making statements contrary to sportsmanship.”
Moreover, even moments aimed to commemorate Kurdish victims of massacres are disrespected during football matches. One was the twin bombings in Ankara that targeted a rally held on October 10, 2015, by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a leading pro-Kurdish political party. The death toll of 103 civilians marked it as one of the worst terrorist attacks in the history of Turkey.
During the match between Turkey and Iceland on October 13, 2015, the fans and the players observed a moment of silence for the victims of the Ankara bombings — but the moment of silence was met with jeers.
Many Turkish fans whistled and booed during the minute’s silence, while others were heard shouting “Allahu akbar.”
Ali Fikri Isik, an Istanbul-based football commentator, said.
One of the most important reasons Amedspor is targeted by Turkish football fans is that Amedspor values and represents the Kurdish identity. Amedspor has been playing well in the league. But those Turkish football fans who have been brainwashed with Turkish nationalism cannot stand the presence of Kurdish teams in the Turkish league and their achievements. This type of mindset has always been prone to commit violence.
More alarming is that dominant Turkish football clubs support and even promote the unjust acts of the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) against Amedspor. And the majority of football commentators have been silent in the face of these racist attacks against Amedspor and other Kurdish football clubs.
In Turkey, hatred of Kurds is at such dangerous levels that many Turks cannot even tolerate Kurds’ requesting peace, commemorating their dead, or even playing football on their fields and winning the matches.