Erdogan slams the opposition for "taking advantage" of the disagreement between football clubs and Saudi Arabia
Erdogan slams the opposition for “taking advantage” of the disagreement between football clubs and Saudi Arabia

Istanbul — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said that the opposition was “taking advantage” of a fight between two Turkish football teams and Saudi officials.

Istanbul rivals Galatasaray and Fenerbahce refused to play in the Turkish Super Cup final that was supposed to happen in Saudi Arabia on Friday. The game was pushed back forever because of this. A lot of fans from both teams showed up at Istanbul’s airports before dawn to meet and cheer them on.

“Organisational disruptions” were given as the reason for the delay in a statement released by the Turkish Football Federation and the teams on Friday. They also thanked Saudi Arabia for its work in setting up the game.

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But news sources said the fight was over players wearing jerseys with pictures of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s secularist founder, and carrying a banner with his words “Peace at home, Peace in the world.” In 2023, it will be 100 years since Ataturk declared Turkey to be a modern country. Both teams had earlier asked for the game to be played in Turkey instead of Saudi Arabia.

Reports earlier said that the national song of Turkey would not be played and that Turkish flags would not be allowed in the stadium. However, Turkish officials denied those claims.

The argument got very heated over the weekend and was talked about a lot in opposition media. There was some talk about it in pro-government media, but clubs, the football federation, and Turkish leaders mostly kept quiet about it.

At an awards show late Saturday night, Turkey’s conservative president finally spoke out.

“We want to see Turkish sports, especially football, become a source of pride instead of disagreements.” He said, “Making sports a daily source of political rivalry is wrong and does nothing good for our sports.”

He also said, “We can see that the things the opposition parties have said since last night are just the latest examples of political exploitation.”

Most likely, Saudi Arabia will hold the men’s World Cup in 2034. In the past few years, the country has taken steps to host international games and tournaments. In January, both Spain and Italy will hold their Super Cups there.

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