“This year is remembered as a season of violence and clashes. In recent matches in particular, incidents erupted on and off the pitch of which we could never approve. Nobody can escape responsibility by passing the buck. This [hooliganism] got into us. These hooligans are turning pitches into fields of terror. I am not naming this club or that club. But, unfortunately, the majority [of clubs] have them [hooligan fans],” he said during his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.
His remarks came as Turkish commentators discussed the post-match violence that erupted after a goalless match between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe on Saturday night. After the final whistle blew that saw Galatasaray become champion, hundreds of Fenerbahçe fans occupied the pitch at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in İstanbul. Some threw plastic chairs and flares at police, who tried to use their shields to protect players. Police used pepper spray to disperse angry Fenerbahçe fans, evacuating the stadium as well as players from their locker rooms. Some claimed police used disproportionate force and used pepper spray when it was not necessary during the incident.
Fans also threw chairs and other objects at a corridor leading to the locker rooms. The clash followed a tense game, during which referee Cüneyt Çakır booked several players and issued red cards to a player from each team. The pitch invasion and violence at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium prevented Galatasaray from immediately celebrating its 18th league title and lifting the Turkish Super League Cup. The Fenerbahçe administration proposed handing over the champion cup in the locker room and turned off the floodlights. Galatasaray eventually returned to the field and received the trophy in front of television cameras -- soon after Erdoğan, who is a member of Fenerbahçe’s general assembly and a former football player, said the ceremony should be held on the pitch.
On Tuesday, Erdoğan also commented on the cup ceremony controversy. “[Regarding] the issue of handing over the cup in the locker room -- how can such a silly thing happen? All of these things should have been done nobly on the pitch,” Erdoğan said. “Everyone should fulfill their responsibilities in preventing football, which can be powerful enough to halt wars, from becoming a tool for clashes and division.”