Stop without demand: how the earthquake will affect the future of Turkish football

The devastating earthquake in Turkey also hit local football. Two clubs have already withdrawn from the Super League – Hatayspor and Gaziantep, which were based in the affected regions. The championship itself has been suspended. Among the victims of the elements are several football players and club employees. However, experts are sure that the tragedy will not affect the development of football in the country. The Turkish Super League has a strong economic base, clubs do not depend on state-related funding sources, and in July 2022, a new record contract was signed with television, which brings in $ 370 million per season. According to the decision of the local football federation, Hatayspor and Gaziantep will retain their place in the Super League next year.

Economic basis

Gaziantep and Hatayspor are two clubs in the Turkish Super League that were based in the south of the country, where the earthquake happened. The first – back on February 9 – Hatayspor announced the withdrawal from the championship. Under the rubble were many of his players and staff. Rescuers managed to get five players. But one of the leaders of the club, ex-midfielder of the London Chelsea and the Ghana national team Christian Atsu, and sports director Taner Savut are still missing, their search continues. On February 13, Gaziantep also refused to participate in the Super League.

The tragedy touched not only these two clubs. Yeni Malatyaspor goalkeeper Ahmet Turkaslan has died. 15 relatives of Sivasspor head coach assistant Ayhan Tenbeloglu died. They all lived in the city of Hatay, which, along with Kahramanmarash, suffered the most from the earthquake. At the epicenter of the tragedy, many teams from the lower divisions were based, which are now also removed from the championships.

The Turkish Football Federation and the leadership of the Super League held a joint meeting. It was decided that Gaziantep and Hatayspor will retain their place in the top echelon of the national championship for the next season.

The leaders of Turkish football also announced that, at the expense of the federation and the Super League, a thousand houses will be built in Kahranmarash and Hatay for the victims of the disaster. About €1 million has already been allocated to help the victims of the tragedy.

Turkish football is historically self-sufficient, does not depend on state sources of funding and therefore will be able to support itself, despite the economic consequences that may threaten the country as a whole, Dmitry Vasiliev, former commercial director of FC Ural, who has lived and lived for many years, told Izvestia. worked in Turkey.

“Even the fact that the federation and the Superleague are ready to help the two most affected cities speaks of their financial capabilities,” the expert said. – Difficulties are possible for teams from the lower leagues, but Gaziantep and Hatayspor, who have withdrawn from the Super League tournament, will feel calm financially. It has not yet been decided, but for sure they will keep all the income that is due for this season, for example, from the sale of television rights. And this despite the fact that they did not finish it. And the fact that they will remain in the Super League for at least another year gives them the opportunity to look to the future with confidence.

The honorary president of the RFU, Vyacheslav Koloskov, is sure that Turkish football will cope with the consequences of the disaster.

– When I led the RFU and was on the FIFA executive committee, this country already faced a similar tragedy – in 1999, thousands of people died from an earthquake. And then the country managed to recover, and Turkish football lived and developed. It was in the early 2000s that Galatasaray won the UEFA Cup, the team became the third in the World Cup. I am sure that now everything will be fine with their football. In the meantime, we must express condolences to the families of the victims and wait until all the consequences of the disaster are eliminated. Moreover, Russia is actively helping Turkey in this.

Where will the players play?

President of the Turkish Football Federation Mehmet Buyukeksi said that a decision would be made in the near future whether the results of the meetings already played by Gaziantep and Hatayspor would be annulled. The second option is to leave all the results in force, and in the unplayed matches, withdrawing clubs are awarded a forfeit defeat, and each of their rivals is automatically awarded three points.

“When I heard this statement by Buyukekshi, I thought that they did not have a situation in the regulations when the teams did not finish the championship,” said Dmitry Vasiliev. – And this is logical, because in their minds there is no such thing that someone can go bankrupt, get into debt and withdraw from the tournament during the season, without finishing it due to finances or other sins. Especially in the Super League. There is no such thing in anybody’s head.

Also, the leadership of Turkish football is considering the option in which the players of Gaziantep and Hatayspor, who were not physically affected by the earthquake, will go on loan to other clubs in Turkey until the end of this season.

  • “Besiktas”, for example, is actively interested in the Romanian striker of “Gaziantepspor” Alexandru Maxim, – said Vasiliev. The transfer window in Turkey is still open. Perhaps the RFU and Russian clubs can try to negotiate with the Turks so that some of these players are rented by our teams. Almost every player of Gaziantep and Hataspor corresponds to the level of the RPL. Although it is not clear whether the players themselves are now ready to think about football at all, to play. Purely psychologically, they need to come to their senses.

According to the expert, the removal of both Gaziantep and Hatayspor was inevitable. In Turkey, it is not customary to play home matches on neutral fields, as is often done, for example, in Russia.

“The scale of destruction and casualties is colossal,” Vasilyev summed up. “People don’t care about football. This is not the case when football unites. It does not even come to mind to offer one of these two clubs to play the remaining home matches in other cities. And these clubs themselves will not ask for anything like that. They understand that football is needed for their fans, and not for show in the protocol.

The Turkish Football Federation and the Super League have not yet announced the resumption of the championship. The last matches took place on February 5th. Played 21 rounds. The next games were scheduled for February 17-20, but they have been postponed. The next tour, which is scheduled for early March, has been kept in the calendar at the previous dates.

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