Fenerbahce Away Travel Ban - Fans' ProtestFenerbahce fans are launching protests against new away travel ban

Watching a football match and supporting your team inside the stadium is probably THE most essential means of expression of support for a football fan. But unfortunately in Turkey, this has now been collectively restricted, as usual with the argument of wanting to prevent violence. According to an agreement made between the four biggest clubs of the Turkish Super League - Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, Besiktas and Trabzonspor – all games taking place between the four will be played without away supporters for the entire rest of the 2011-12 football season.

 

Let's go back to the beginning of the story: with the beginning of the 2011/2012 football season, a new and rather repressive law aiming at tackling violence in football has started to be applied. Whilst it includes a few positive aspects, such as elements aiming at initiating fans' dialogue, organized supporters across the country first and foremost criticize it for containing heavily restrictive measures, introduction of comprehensive measures of surveillance, and means of collective and comparably severe punishments even for rather minor offences, the overall measures thereby affecting also peaceable fans. And this new, very much clampdown approach against fans obviously is stirring up to a rather tense atmosphere both amongst fans and on the side of the authorities at the moment.

Now, just before a Besiktas vs Fenerbahce game a few weeks ago, an almost ironically, fortunate mess-up happened: even though away tickets had been sold, Besiktas announced on their official website, after a security meeting between both clubs and the local security committee, that there will be no away supporters allowed in at the game, for security reasons. Obviously, Fenerbahce fans weren't happy at all when they heard this....

However, strangely enough, there was still no official statement confirming the ban on the side of the Turkish Footboll Federation, the local security committee nor on that of Fenerbahce. But there was an immediate reaction from Fenerbahce and Besiktas supporters: via social media, Besiktas fans invited Fenerbahce to their "Temple", which is "Carsi" in İstanbul. This invitation was positively received by Fenerbahce fans and they created a campaign under the motto "Do not touch my away game!".

When matchday came, none of the official bodies ultimately enforced the originally announced away travel ban and Fenerbahce fans simply entered Besiktas' stadium and watched the match peacefully. Now, you can assume that this could count as another victory won for football fans but unfortunately, it is not quite the case: three weeks ahead of the very recent Galatasaray vs Fenerbahce game, match officials did do their job and successfully prevented Fenerbahce fans from getting into the ground.Fenerbahce Fans Away Travel - Empty Block

At their first home game after that, Fenerbahce fans launched a protest action against the ban. At their match against Eskisehir, about 3000 supporters, organized in different Fenerbahce fan groups, boycotted the stands successfully for 10 minutes into the match. They left a big banner in their section saying "Do not touch my away game" in Turkish, and chanted loudly in the concourse area. This protest was repeated at the next Besiktas' home game.

Right now, especially Fenerbahce fans are still protesting against the away travel ban at every game. For those of you remembering this year's European Fans' Congress: "Imagine football without fans!?"...this certainly, and sadly rings a bell, right?

The fact that makes a football game a game is it's fans. But in Turkey, just like in many other countries, the magic words "safety and security" alone seem to justify large cuts into the civil liberty rights of fans, thereby labeling them collectively as a problem. Turkish fans will keep protesting against this ban and they would be very happy about any solidarity statements from European fans' with this! Will you join in?!

 

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