Fenerbahce fans clash with Turkish police

Photo: Fenerbahce fans clash with Turkish police / Turkey

Hundreds of Fenerbahce fans occupied the pitch and clashed with police after traditional rival Galatasaray won the Turkish league championship following a goalless derby on Saturday, Today's Zaman reported.

One fan was reportedly stabbed after Galatasaray's Turkish league championship triggered violence at the goalless derby match with Fenerbahce and across the country on Saturday.

After the final whistle, hundreds of Fenerbahce fans occupied the pitch at their Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in İstanbul. Others broke off plastic chairs and threw them at police, who tried to use their shields to protect the players. Flares were also tossed at the police.

In response, police used pepper spray to disperse angry Fenerbahce fans and evacuated the stadium as the players escaped to changing rooms along with police.

The fans also threw chairs and other objects at a corridor leading to the changing rooms. The clash followed a tense game during which referee Cuneyt Cakır booked several players and issued red cards to one player from each team.

Sports channel Lig TV said journalists, players and even policemen were also affected by the pepper spray. Some parents angrily reacted to the police after their children were affected, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.

Lig TV said some Fenerbahce fans also clashed with police outside the stadium, throwing stones at a police vehicle with a water cannon.

The fans also turned over two police vehicles and set them on fire in İstanbul's Kadıkoy district, the Anatolia added. Police and citizens nearby quickly put out the fire, it added. The fans also turned over garbage bins and shattered shop windows, also leaving behind streets littered with fist-sized stones, state television showed.

In related violence elsewhere in the country, a 29-year-old man wearing a Galatasaray jersey was stabbed in the abdomen in an attack by Fenerbahce fans, the agency said. The man was reported to be in stable condition.

More clashes erupted between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray fans in İstanbul and other cities.

The pitch invasion and violence at Sukru Saracoglu Stadium blocked Galatasaray from immediately celebrating its 18th league title and lifting the Turkish Super League Cup. Authorities finally turned off the floodlights.

Galatasaray eventually returned to the field and received the trophy under the lights of television cameras - soon after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is a member of Fenerbahce's general assembly and a former football player, said the ceremony should be held on the pitch, state television said.

Coach Fatih Terim earlier said his team "would not leave without taking the cup." Terim was reportedly opposed to receiving the cup in the changing room.

Tens of thousands of Galatasaray fans took to the streets, honking car horns across the country, dancing in the streets and chanting slogans, just days after the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) cleared all teams implicated in an alleged match-fixing scheme, drawing criticism even from some federation officials.

It was not clear if UEFA would be satisfied with the decision of the federation, which only sanctioned some players and club officials but spared the clubs, including Fenerbahce which was allegedly at the center of the match-fixing scandal.

The match-fixing controversy also comes amid Turkey's bid to host the 2020 European Championship, which put İstanbul's bid for the 2020 Olympics under more scrutiny.

It's unlikely Turkey would be granted both events. The IOC would award the Olympics to İstanbul only on condition Turkey would not also stage the football championship in the same year.

The government has so far fully supported both bids.

Also bidding for the 2020 Olympics are Madrid, Tokyo, Doha and Baku, Azerbaijan. The IOC executive board will announce on May 23 the list of finalists. The full International Olympic Committee will select the host city in September 2013.

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