Turkish football: a game of two sexes?
If ever proof were needed that football had succeeded in widening its appeal this was it, writes Channel 4 News reporter Carl Dinnen.
There were 22 men on the pitch in Istanbul last night, plus a few subsitutes and officials, but that was it. The other 41,000 people in the Sukru Saracoglu stadium were all women and children. Even the police searching supporters at the doors were female officers.
The Turkish Football Federation had ordered the home side, Fenerbahce, to play two games behind closed doors, with no supporters, as a punishment for crowd trouble during a summer ‘friendly’. It’s a well established punishment for supporters who get out of hand. But this week the Turkish hit on a better idea: let women and children under 12 in, for free.
The problem with closed door games is that they have no atmosphere, no excitement and that’s no good on TV (where every team wants to be). Last night Fenerbahce’s tie against Manisapor had no difficulties on that front.”It was such a fun and pleasant atmosphere.” said Manisaspor midfielder Omer Aysan. It’s hard to imagine that’s ever been said of a game at Fenerbache before; the fans there pride themselves on making visiting teams feel uncomfortable. Normally they are jeered onto the pitch, last night they were applauded.
Before kick-off the players threw flowers into the crowd, a slightly bizarre touch but one which emphasised the ground breaking nature of this experiment. From now on male fans who cause trouble at football grounds (have female fans ever started trouble at a game?) not only risk missing a match, but missing a good one. Well good-ish. The final score last night; one-all.
Follow Carl Dinnen on twitter: @carldinnen