Etiketler | "Fenerbahce season tickets"

Yıldırım Waging Divisive Fenerbahçe Battle

In Turkey, it is often hard to watch a game in a stadium from the seat which you bought the ticket for (except in specific numbered stands). The reason for this is that often the seat or section your ticket shows has already been occupied by the “fan group” of that particular club. Members of these fan groups believe they have the right to take your place simply because they arrived at the ground earlier than you. These fan groups also believe they have added power because many are supported directly by the clubs, who give them free tickets and often pay for them to attend away matches. (insidefutbol)

Earlier this season, the Genc Fenerbahceliler (GFB – Young Supporters of Fenerbahce), a group with very close ties to Fenerbahce president Aziz Yıldırım, came into dispute with the club. The problem was that GFB were demanding season tickets be issued to them in the area of the ground where they group together.

Since 2001, GFB have always grouped behind the goal at one end of the ground, however, season tickets are not available for that section, so any Fenerbahce fans have the right to sit there. This gave GFB a problem, since they are constantly struggling to find tickets together in their chosen stand. GFB met with Aziz Yıldırım and asked for season tickets, in their favourite stand, just for them. The president of Fenerbahce refused.

GFB decided soon after to buy season tickets, together, for another stand. As soon as Aziz Yıldırım realised what GFB were attempting to do he stopped the sale of season tickets for the entire stand. What was behind Aziz Yıldırım’s wish to stop GFB buying up all the season tickets in a specific area? The reason given is that GFB sell products with Fenerbahce’s logo and name on. The Fenerbahce president is one of the most forward thinking presidents in the whole of Turkey where commerical matters are concerned, and he has said he feels that GFB harms the identity of Fenerbahce by selling products like scarves and hats with GFB’s name and logo on them. Yıldırım believes that every Fenerbahce fan should only have official Fenerbahce products, otherwise the identity of the club will be harmed.

It is a well-known fact in Turkey that Aziz Yıldırım and GFB have a close relationship. Aziz Yıldırım confirmed as much by stating recently: “In the past circumstances needed this.” The president surely knows what he is talking about because when he resigned some time ago, he ordered GFB to commence propaganda efforts to “persuade” him to change his decision. GFB have played an important role in other events too, such as in 2001 when they were largely credited with forcing Mustafa Denizli from his job as manager. Aziz Yıldırım has further backed the group in the past by giving them 3,000 tickets to allow GFB to become the most dominant fan group amongst Fenerbahce supporters.

Season ticket crisis

According to Ferhat Eren, the leader of GFB, the season ticket crisis, as it is now known, began on the 30th July 2008, with the game against MTK Budapest: “Before the season we had a meeting with Aziz Yıldırım. We said that we are coming to all the games to support our team. But we are struggling to find tickets in the same areas. And there is no season ticket sale where we watch our games. We asked him to prepare season tickets only for us, to be paid for by us. But he didn’t accept it, without any reason. And then we decided to buy tickets for the Maraton up-side Block E [the stand parallel to the throw-in line].”

According to Ferhat Eren’s claims, Aziz Yıldırım cancelled the sales of season tickets in that area when he heard GFB had started to buy them. And instead, he added, Yıldırım gave the tickets from that block to sponsors.

People punished even if they didn’t enter the stadium

Since the Champions League qualifier against Partizan Belgrade, GFB have been protesting against the Fenerbahce board. Ferhat Eren again has an opinion as to how Aziz Yıldırım is trying to take on the club’s main fan group. In regards to the MTK Budapest game he had this to say: “Seats that are close to where we sit are handed out to people who are brought in by Aziz Yıldırım. And they have started to shout at us and challenge us. Our group shouldn’t reply to them, but even after we tried to move away from them some fights have taken place.”

Ferhat Eren’s most interesting claim is about the people who have been punished after these fights, even if they were not involved in the incidents. “One of the ten people who were later punished was in the stand at the back of the goal. Two of them did not even attend the game. The leader of the group was in the corridor. Even after these people had proven that they were not involved in the incidents, Aziz Yıldırım achieved the purpose of his scenario. Ten people have been punished with a one year ban from the stadium and ordered to pay 1,117 YTL. And we ask ourselves: Why was the footage from the security cameras in the ground not used for the investigation?”

The only one identity is Fenerbahçe

From the banners displayed at Fenerbahce home games it is easy to see that the board of the club and its supporters are in crisis. The most unforgettable banner appeared on the 27th August at the Partizan Belgrade game, saying “There is only one identitiy: Fenerbahce”.

Aziz Yıldırım himself commented on this banner in an issue of Fenerbahce’s official club magazine in October 2008: “Our fight is against the fan who tries to accumulate support and show that they are the authority. And we will continue to fight no matter who is against us. Whoever tries to use opportunities for their advantage as with such things [the banner] is cheering against us, and not with us.” But the question is – who is “us”?

There is no sultanate at Fenerbahce

After the banner incidents the board of Fenerbahce banned fans from hanging banners at the ground. The stated reason given by the board was that the fan groups should not write their name on the banner. This, they argued, harms the “Fenerbahce identity“. After fan groups let the board know in no uncertain terms about their outrage, the board reversed their decision, but said any fan group text should be small. Even this didn’t last long…

In the sixth week of the Super Lig, before the game against Kayserispor (which Fenerbahce lost 4-1), the ban was cancelled by the board. The result was very interesting because the board then sent faxes to invite all the fan groups supporting Fenerbahce calling on them to support their team. Yet all of the banners displayed from then said: “We will support you every time.” The GFB leader says that this was organised by Aziz Yıldırım.

At the same game GFB unfurled a banner which acted as an answer to all the other banners on display. The banner stated: “Everybody should know that there is no sultanate at Fenerbahce. Fenerbahce is a republic.”

GFB’s leader Ferhat Eren said that the group, along with all other fan groups, thought about organising a boycott of the stadium. However, in the end, he felt it would not make a huge difference in a ground with a 50,000 capacity.

Of course, the president of Fenerbahce has the right to prevent groups which annoy and pester ordinary fans simply trying to support their team from coming to the stadium. But this should not be done by hiring cameramen to follow and spy on the fan groups. Also, preventing the fan groups from attending the games goes against the very spirit of a democracy and republic, which Turkey is.

GFB need to be questioned too though, because they gave legitimacy to Aziz Yıldırım and his leadership in the past.

Identity is on the scarf!

During his time in charge as president, Aziz Yıldırım has pushed Fenerbahce forward with the building of new facilities, improving the economics of the club, marketing the club properly, and of course, with the most modern stadium in Turkey, the 50,000 capacity Şükrü Saracoğlu.

But Aziz Yıldırım has, some would say, failed the test of democracy. Aziz Yıldırım has worked to remove his critics from the board, and now, is also working to remove them from the stands. No dissent of his regime will be allowed it seems.

The president has succeeded in so much, but in his attempt to change the culture on the stands he is moving forward in an outdated way. Aziz Yıldırım’s new motto (just as the banner) is: “There is only one identity: Fenerbahce.” One reason for the club’s success has been its supporters and Aziz Yıldırım is risking his relationship with them by seeming to look down on them and enforce his authority so blatantly. This kind of thinking puts Aziz Yıldırım into a ridiculous position. Is a GFB member not a Fenerbahce fan? Or can they only be considered a Fenerbahce fan when they buy their scarf from the club’s chain of superstores, Fenerium?

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