Turkish Football Executives Rally Around Erdoğan


Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has had a pretty rocky term since being elected President in 2014. During his first years in office, the former Prime Minister was heavily criticized for, among other things: censoring the press, lacking neutrality, and building a lavish “presidential palace” in Ankara. But all of this criticism really came to a head during an attempted military coup in July of 2016.

Since then, Erdoğan has declared a state of emergency, attempting to reconsolidate power wherever possible and increase executive control. While many in the international community viewed it as a move towards authoritarianism, but that hasn’t stopped him yet. Earlier this week, a German MP went so far as to accuse him of pursuing ‘Third Reich-style’ foreign policy.
But not all the press has been negative – on Tuesday, executives from The Turkish Football Federation’s (TFF) campaigned to increase President Erdoğan’s authority.
This move comes after several notable Turkish footballers were fired from the Galatasaray football club for their alleged connections to anti-Erdoğan networks. The former footballers, Hakan Şükür and Arif Erdem, were part of a team that helped win the UEFA cup in 2000. They’re accused of supporting the Islamic Gülen movement, a group that Erdoğan claims orchestrated the attempted coup against him in July. Arrest warrants has have been issued for both men; they’re accused of “being a member of an armed terror group”, and Şükür has also been charged with insulting the president.
The move is just a small symbol of the rampant nationalism that’s currently sweeping through Turkey. While speaking at a TFF conference, Erdoğan told reporters:
“politics and football share many common aspects at the core. Just like sports, the essence of politics is competition… Just like football, politics cannot be done without passion, love and dedication. You have to dedicate yourself”
Interestingly enough, Erdoğan himself was a semi-professional football player before being elected Mayor of Istanbul in 1994.