Soccer in Turkey

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Question: Mehmet, the other day I was looking at a Turkish newspaper sports page that a Turkish co-worker was reading. I do not speak Turkish, but from the pictures on the page, I understood that the whole page was covered with soccer news. My question is; don't you practice any other sports in Turkey?

Response: You must have been looking at that paper on a Monday. Because, all Turkish papers cover the soccer matches played on the weekend with very colorful pictures and huge headlines.

Soccer is the most popular sport in Turkey. Turks call it 'futbol.' You will see kids playing soccer at every open area at any time of the day. When they say or think of "playing ball," they mean "playing futbol." The most popular gift for a boy is a soccer ball. Fathers start to play soccer with their sons as soon as they start to walk in the living room driving the mother crazy. A father and son's ideal job is to become a famous and popular soccer player.

In addition to their city's local team, every Turkish man and most of the women are keen supporters of the three major soccer clubs. Those three clubs are; Besiktas, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce. These clubs are based in Istanbul and they are the oldest, biggest, and strongest clubs. There is a big rivalry among them and every year one of them becomes champion.

Adana has two major soccer clubs; Adana Demirspor representing Adana in the second division and Adanaspor representing Adana in the third division. Demirspor is trying hard and may have a chance at finishing the season as the champion.

Turkish teams had some success in international play area. For instance, Galatasaray won the UEFA (European Football Association) Cup in 2000. The Turkish national team got third place after Brazil and Germany in the last world cup in 2002.

Almost every soccer team playing in the first division has one or more foreign players. Brazilian players are quite popular in Turkey. As a matter of fact, one of those players has become a Turkish citizen, changed his name to Mehmet and played on the Turkish national team. While we have foreign players on Turkish teams, we have several Turkish players playing in Germany, England and some other European countries.

When a team wins an important match or becomes champion, you will see convoys of cars filled with fans waving flags and blowing their horns touring in the streets of the city. From time to time you might hear some gunfire during those celebrations. 'Futbol' is the national sport of Turkey and we are fiercely loyal to our teams just like Americans are with their baseball, basketball and football teams.