Supporters of Turkish soccer team Fenerbahçe, who chanted anti-government slogans during a previous match, have been banned from attending this weekend’s game against Kayserispor, according to a team statement.
Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber confirmed the decision on Tuesday, saying visiting fans will not be allowed inside the stadium as Fenerbahçe travels to Kayseri, Turkey.
According to TRT Haber, the decision was made due to “security reasons” following a meeting held by the Provincial Security Board.
“We have learned with surprise that our supporters will not be allowed to be in the stadium when we play against Yukatel Kayserispor on Saturday, March 4, 2023, a decision taken by the Kayseri Provincial Security Board,” the statement read.
Fenerbahçe said it is “in no way possible” for the team to accept the decision, calling it a “strange one that has nothing to do with sportive criteria, in a way that will deepen the social polarization.”
“It has no meaning other than hindering our fans’ desire to support our team and punishing our Club,” the Fenerbahçe statement added.
The team demanded to know on what grounds its supporters were banned and called on those involved in the decision to review it.
At a match on Saturday, Fenerbahçe fans chanted anti-government slogans calling for its resignation, amid criticisms of the government’s response to earthquake relief efforts.
In a statement on Sunday, Kayserispor, the host team of the city where this weekend’s upcoming match will be played, released a statement condemning “abasement that tries to dominate the stadiums.”
“We present to the public that the Kayserispor community stands by the state and the nation, shares our national pain from the heart in these disaster days, is against the dirty politics and abasement that tries to dominate the stadiums, and we condemn this,” the team said.
Some Beşiktaş fans also chanted “government resign” in protest against the official response to the disaster during the club’s game against Antalyaspor on Sunday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s partner in government, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) head Devlet Bahçeli, called for soccer games to be played without fans and ended his Beşiktaş membership in light of the anti-government chants.
On Sunday, fans also showered the stadium with teddy bears and other stuffed toys. They will be sent by Beşiktaş to children impacted by the earthquake.