Turkish European Dreams

Back to “Middle East”


Through the history of a Turkish club team, one can trace issues of national pride, of international tensions, and of triumphant athletes overcoming their odds.

‘Europe, Europe! Hear our march’ shouts one tribune, everyone raising their hands and looking to the next section, who yell ‘These are the marches of the Turks’.  The third part of the stadium cries with pride ‘No one can mess with the Turks’ until the last section raises their arms, firmly squeezing their fists, screeching: ‘Bastards of …….. prepare yourself!’

Short History of Galatasaray (1989-1999)


This was the dominant cheer among Galatasary fans in the late 1980s, as the team became the first Turkish team to reach the semi-finals of European Champions Club in the spring of 1989, before being ousted by the Romanian Steaua Bucharest. It was the single biggest victory in the Turkish football history. The chant became more and more prominent and reflected the pride of many Turkish supporters. It was sung by fans at many different kinds of games — domestic and international, in competition of friendly match-ups. Unfortunately, the lack of international success both at the club and national level in the upcoming four years ultimately left the chant somewhat meaningless.

But there was another surprise during the 1993-1994 season as Gala joined the Champions League for the first time ever, defeating one of the best European Clubs of the decade, Manchester United — the infamous Manchester with Schemicel, Giggs and Cantona! On the evening of the first leg, with the game tied 3-3, the commentator lionized the Turkish players, shouting ‘Here is Turkey! Here is Galatasaray!,’ underlining the fact that he was experiencing the best moments of his 20 year-old career. Gala drew 0-0 in the second leg at home, and qualified against all odds. One of the biggest newspapers in Turkey published the following cover page:

Manchester United-Galatasaray (http://www.antu.com/images/fotograf_galerisi/sabah_manset.jpg)

Although a full translation of the headline is not easy due the various cultural connotations, a basic translation is: ‘One glorious turkey jumped on the Englishmen’. The subtitle was more interesting, as it made fun of the British media, underlining how they made fun of the Turks comparing them to Turkey just after the seeds, and how Gala gave them a lesson. More interestingly, the same newspaper called the Manchester United administrators ‘Sons of ….’ because of their effort to disqualify Gala by making several security complaints right after the match. Truly, it was the uniqueness of the success that deformed the title. Gala only collected 2 points in the group stages that year.

Sons of B…. (http://img293.imageshack.us/i/manchester59tdxo9.jpg/)

The next year, Gala qualified once again, and expectations grew. Gala collected 4 points in the hellish group of Manchester United, Barcelona and the infamous Goteborg with Ravelli. Simultaneously, the Turkish national team collected points for the next Euro Cup in England. In 1996, Turkey went to the Euro Cup for the first time ever — its only previous success was its participation in the 1954 World Cup. Considering Galatasaray’s success, were things really changing? Might the chant ring true?

The Turkish national team failed to extract a single point in the group stage against Croatia, Portugal and Denmark. Fans had to turn to the club teams, in short to Galatasaray, for a tangible success. Fatih Terim, aka The Emperor, became the head coach for Galatasaray in the summer of 1996. He brought with him the Romanian warrior attacking midfielder Gheorge Hagi, known as the Maradona of the Carpats, who had scored against Gala about 7 years before in the semi-finals.

Under Fatih Terim, Gala pushed the limits of total football. There was a continuous fluidity within the team, which was strengthened by a very young and agile midfield combined with Hagi’s creative distributive skills close to the box and finishes of Hakan Sukur, the master pivotal forward who became the top scorer of the league for the next three years in a row. The 1998-1999 year was a pivotal one for the team. That year, Gala continued to perfect its style of “total football” that year in the Champions League, coming in second due to average difference with Juventus. Thanks to that year’s existing rules, in which the winners of the groups and best two runners-up qualified, Gala extended its run into the next season. An amazing thing was going to happen for the first time in Turkey.

Fans kept up the chant, trying to intimidate European teams. It increasingly seemed that the presence of the Turks, both through Galatasaray and other club teams, could pose a serious problem for European teams. In the context of complicated Turkish-EU relations, the chant, in addition to the media’s rhetoric, took on deeper meaning. It had been more than three decades since Turkey’s relationship with the EU began, and the waltz between the two was getting increasingly awkward. Within Europe the other candidate dancers seemed to be in near-perfect harmony with their partners, while Turkey was again the unwanted candidate.


Football, Media & Identity

As Richard Giulianotti and Roland Robertson point out in Globalization & Football, the transnational social dimensions of football now powerfully encompass a range of political domains. Indeed ‘football has long been a domain for transnational struggles over social inclusion in regard to race and ethnicity, and gender, and has in more recent times encompassed the cultural politics of sexuality.[1] Some scholars emphasize the spread of sport as a form of ‘cultural imperialism,’ underscoring the determinant effectiveness  of global culture, particularly as manifested by Western institutions, which effectively shapes the critical agency of social actors at an everyday level[2] . In opposition to this view, some sociocultural and anthropological analyses illustrate the creativity of social actors, showing how forms of local identity are purposely constructed ‘in resistance’ to perceived global processes [3]. Giulianotti and Robertson argue that the most plausible perspective on cultural globalization involve the integration of both of these standpoints. The key question is how to understand and reflect on the ways in chiwh It is a  collective identities transform through this process.

Italian sociologist Alberto Melucci underscores collective identity as ‘an interactive and shared definition produced by several interacting individuals who are concerned with the orientations of their action as well as the field of opportunities and constraints in which their action takes place…Collective identity formation is a delicate process and requires continual investment.’ Schesinger adds to this definition by explaining that  that collective identities are sustained by a dual process: one of inclusion that provides a boundary around ‘us’, the other of exclusion that distinguishes ‘us’ from ‘them’.

Today, most sporting cultures are transmitted through the means of television, radio, and print media and of course the internet. These forms of transmission mediate discourses of identity, which if the political or economic climate is right, can also be re-constructed or re-invented. This was exactly what the Turkish media did on the way to May 2000, when a Turkish club team won a cup in Europe, a continent that did not (and still does not) want Turkey as a full-time member, having delayed its candidacy for decades. The media has helped make Galatasaray’s football a symbol of Turkish collective identity demanding entrance through the gates of the EU. If Turks were competing fist to fist in the European championships, many argued, than it was time for its representation and acceptance in the political sphere. Football, then, provides an important framework for enhancing national cohesion alongside state-sanctioned strategies of integration and legitimation. As Giulianotti and Robertson explain, this can happen in two ways. It can take place at the club level, where participation of regional teams integrate the peripheral communities within the national state. It can also, of course, take place at the national level. Giulianotti and Robertson use the example of the Iranian national team joining the 1998 World Cup, and how the politicians argued it as a political victory for the Islamic state, as an example of this.

The mass production and consumption of radio –then television- was integral to the nation-building process, in which football played a crucial part [5]. As Hobsbawm [6] observes, when constructing national identity, ‘The imagined community of million seems more real as a team of eleven people’. Benedict Anderson’s concept is titled imagined communities because imagined represents the fact that even the smallest members of the nations will not get to know every member within their society, community underscores ‘regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship.’ [4].

A contrasting view would be that international football precipitated strong process of relativization: as national societies came into increasing contact with each other, so they were inspired to differentiate themselves, to sharpen their identity-markers, in relation to others. Football acted as a mean to compare one with regards to the other and claim to be the best so long as a wide range of outside challengers were competing. Turkish case was slightly different as these two came in two states. First, being a candidate for the EU for decades, and not having a single success in the history of the game, Turkey had to first overcome the ‘victimized’ mentality through Galatasaray’s football. If it had not been like this, the media would not have utilized the word ‘against the Europe or Europeans’ all the time in their reports when underlining Gala’s successes in the season of 1999-2000. It was after a couple of rounds, when the second stage got into play, where Turkish identity through Galatasaray’s football got superior and started humiliating the Europeans.


Within this ideologically charged political and social context, ‘playing in the European Competition became a project of Europeanization for some media authorities. Minister of Sport and Youth indicated that, ‘‘the success of Galatasaray would be an important step in Turkey’s accession to Europe[7].  Hence, the idea of first being equal to Europe and then beating them (which would sound familiar to any nationalist discourse in the Third world) mirrored the hegemony of the pro-western and urban upper classes in terms of political agenda and mobilized state and media support for the European adventure of Galatasaray. [8]

Indeed, Gala’s journey was a unique one. Aiming to realize the opportunities of legitimacy within Europe, even the political elite did its best by canceling the domestic games of Galatasaray before its European matches, being physically present in every game of Galatasaray in European stadiums, promising financial support for sport success, mobilizing Turkish embassies at Europe, and serving private planes are only a ‘‘sample of favors’’ from the state to improve the performance of the team on ‘‘European soil.’’ The ultimate display of political support was when one third of all members of the Turkish parliament went to Copenhagen to watch the final game live on the stadium [9].

The media was aware of these efforts as well. Some liberal writers were arguing that the Turkish attendance in the European competitions and European World Cup qualifications could be seen  as a positive momentum for the building of a common European identity within Turkey. Those who favor Turkish membership in the EU and those who are against it interpret football and sporting events very differently and try to express their national identity accordingly. Taha Akyol[10], for example, highlighted that supporting Galatasaray in the UEFA matches creates in him an excitement of a ‘European Turkey’ while simultaneously challenging Europeans. Similarly, Sami Kohen[11] argued that Galatasaray led the Turkish nation to think ‘you see, we are not different from them; we are part of Europe.’

In contrast, many other columnists & commentators saw Galatasaray’s success in UEFA within nationalistic terms. In this framing, Gala was not a team that played against the European teams, but a mirror image of Turkey’s confrontation with the EU & Europeans. Head columnist of Hurriyet, Oktay Eksi[12] for instance underscored ‘Galatasaray played there with their team colors. But we all know that in their uniforms the real colors were red and white [the colors of the Turkish flag].’  In many of the print media titles and live broadcasts of the 1999 & 2000 period, the tone had a nationalistic tone, lacking a positive identification with Europe.

Turkey’s secular media often referred to successful Turkish teams or athletes as conquerors of Europe [Avrupa fatihleri], reflecting a state of mind that still perceives Turkish-European relations in belligerent terms. Galatasaray’s homecoming was greeted by Milliyet with the headline: ‘Conquerors Are Home.’ The Islamic-leaning Yeni Safak had a similar headline: ‘Galatasaray, the Conqueror of Europe, given a warm welcome at the airport.’ Hooliganism in Europe also served to strengthen feelings of distinction from Europeans. Milliyet labeled the street violence in Brussels before the Galatasaray-Arsenal game as a meydan savasi [open field battle], a term associated with the Ottoman/Turkish wars against Europe. [13]

Turkish media in 1999-2000 illustrated a few things within the identity & media literature. Firstly, as Anderson and Hobbsawm argued, Turkey was represented as one nation with similar goals and excitements. Secondly, the media first used a rhetoric comparing Turkish strength against Europe in general. Successes were bolstered with exaggerated patriotic vocabulary. Some even used football to underline the strength of Galatasaray as a proof of the pro-European identity. It was after a few rounds of successes the language changed and humiliations started from some parts of the media. Certainly, Hugh O’Donnell’s description of a victimized media & nation instigated the issues many times: Sports can function on an international level as a site in which advanced countries can and must act their preferred myths through self- and other-stereotypes, and celebrate those qualities which, in their own eyes, make them more modern, more advanced, in short superior…This process routinely involves downgrading other national groups [14]Thus many times, they did worse. Overall, every step accentuated the otherness of the Turkish identity facing Europe, underscoring the Turkish presence within Europe.

EU-Turkey Relations


Historically, having a non-colonial empire background and being located at the physical and cultural borders of Europe have influenced the preferences of the Turkish-state throughout history. Turkey’s relationship with the European Union (EEC/EC and now the EU) has begun in 1959, considerably earlier than many other countries who are now EU members and candidates. Turkey’s close cooperation with the West during and after the Cold War period was not only designed to serve security and economic policy objectives, but was also an indispensible component of the process of Westernization, which was initiated over 150 years ago and which was intensified after the Republic was founded in 1923 [15] . Since that day, wholesale westernization has been the main current in Turkish politics, social life, and economic relations.

The multifaceted and inscrutable relationship between Turkey and Europe has been a source of continuous debate and controversy for many years. However, the debate has intensified especially in the end of 1980s, following the latest wave of the European Union’s enlargement process toward the communist Central and Eastern European countries that gained their independence from the Soviet control and influence after a series of revolutions in 1989.

The Turkish-EU relations began with the applications of Turkey and Greece for membership in the former EEC in 1959. The center by then, Brussels accepted both countries as associate members of the Community, with the prospect of becoming full members of the EEC at a future but indefinite date. The Association Agreement or Ankara Agreement with Turkey was signed in 1963 and came into effect December 1, 1964, after difficult negotiations with Brussels. This agreement had three main components: the Customs Union, Free Movement of Labor and Financial Assitance through financial protocols  [16].

Turkey formally applied for full membership in the EU in 1987. In 1995, Turkey established an agreement being enrolled in the Customs Union meaning that Turkey was completely opening its economy to international competition and by that time, the contours of the debate concerning the legitimacy of Turkey’s application had been fairly well established. The debate in many ways had reached a stalemate  [17]. Although Turkey became a full candidate in 2005, full membership might come after 2015 or more.

Turkey-EU (http://turquieeuropeenne.eu/IMG/png_no-rio_Eu_Turkey_300.png)

Turkey-EU (http://turquieeuropeenne.eu/IMG/png_no-rio_Eu_Turkey_300.png)

Throughout the past decades, the deadlock of arguments bring two sides face to face. On one side, the Turkish political elite, underscore that the Turkey’s full membership in the EU should be accepted as a natural and inevitable step, highlighting the process of Westernization and modernization starting with Ataturk’s reforms in 1920s and 1930s that aimed to find a secular order in a country with a predominantly Muslim population governed by a monarchic empire for more than 600 years.

On the European side, Turkish claim gets spurred off based primarily on economic and political grounds although some prefer to include cultural and sociological criteria as well. The latter group indicates the naturality of a natural Christian-Muslim divide as a central line of separation between Turkey and contemporary Europe. The apparent consensus underlying the European approach to Turkish-EU relations was that Turkey was economically backward and, at the same time, had failed to satisfy the criteria in relation to democratization and human rights necessary to qualify for full membership in the foreseeable future.  [18] Such a logic underscores that Turkey will be ready for Europe, even if it toils to implement the reforms –which it did especially in 2000s- while other countries, if it manages to establish the necessary domestic conditions for full membership in the economic and political spheres. This argument highlights the transparency of acceptance rules.

Christian Club? (http://www.tercume.co.uk/images/AB%20-%20EU%20-%20TR%20-%20UK.png)

Yet as Onis argues the emergence of the Central and Eastern European countries during the 1990s, and the relative ease with which they have been included in the latest round of EU enlargement at a time when Turkey’s claims to full membership once again were receding into the background, highlights the view that the EU is essentially a civilization project. His comparative perspective on Eastern and Central Europe and Turkey, indicates several common points between levels of economic development and legacies of authoritarian political structures, as well as similar deficiencies in democratization and human rights performance as judged by the standards of Europe.

Actually, one may defend that, despite the periodic military breakdowns, representative and pluralistic democracy has been the norm in Turkey during the post WW II period, while it was not the same case for countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia and many others. The EU has seen these countries’ memberships as a key instrument to improve their economies as well as strengthening democratic regimes. Ironically, the same conditions -economic weakness and the deficiencies of the democratic regime- have been classified as obstacles in front of Turkey’s candidacy & membership.

In that sense, Turkey’s marginalization while the rapid acceptance of others such as who have defective political regimes with high levels of corruption, with massive rates of crime, or those ones like Cyprus, a country that is divided to two under the control of the UN and geographically a country that is as close to the Middle East as it is Europe, or countries economically small and undeveloped, unwillingly creates questions about the honesty of Europe. But from another perspective, it is a fact that two major enlargements of  the EU has coincided with wobbly Turkish democratic experiences, one in 1980s with the military coup & its aftermath and one in 1990s thanks to a semi-coup aiming to fight political Islam and Kurdish terrorist groups.

Galatasaray’s 2000 Performance & Media Reactions


Getting the 4th consecutive domestic league championship, Galatasaray had to play a play-off with Austria’s Rapid Wien. On the 11 of August 1999, Galatasaray was welcomed with thousands of Turkish spectators that gathered from all around the Europe in Wien. Yet, the Austrian sides voices’ came stronger as if they were sure of beating Gala at home. Things did not happen that way, Gala scored two goals in five minutes in the last part of the first half, thanks to two Turkish wing defenders, Hakan Unsal and Fatih Akyel. It was Gheorge Hagi, who dragged the last attack, keeping the ball from Gala’s side until the box, where he scored one of the most beautiful goals of Europe that year. Exactly 14 days later, Rapid came  to Istanbul. Remembering the massive earthquake of the Marmara region on the 17th, where 45000 have passed away, Galatasaray supporters were hesistant to come to the stadium, and those who came were silent, an unordinary day . Yet, Gala guaranteed the play-off leg with a 1-0 win over the Austrians. The media, sharing the same sad sentiment with the supporters just thanked the players with titles such as ‘Thanks Lions…You made us bury our pain to our hearts[19]’.

Galatasaray was participating to Champions League, with the goal of qualifying for the 2nd round this time. The seeds did not give hopes at all. Galatasaray was in the death group, and definetly in the hardest group ever. Facing the Lions were the Italian champions AC Milan with legendary Liberian George Weah and hot prospect for future Andriy Scevchenko, Chealse with Dan Petrescu, Tore Andre Flo and of course Gianfranco Zola and lastly Hertha Berlin with the Iranian hero Ali Daei. Fatih Terim just said ‘We Will Fight’ hinting the seriousness of the group.

On the 15th of September, Gala played Hertha, the so-called easiest in the group, in the Ali Sami Yen Hell. Things did not work as expected. The German side scored 2 goals in 1 minute with Preetz and Wosz, burying the stadium into a deep darkness. Thanks to Hakan Sukur, Gala stroke back after 10 minutes, ending the first half with a 2-1 loss. When everything thought to be ending, Gala scored with a penalty goal, ending the game 2-2. The media was more interested in the referee than the game in the morning of the game.

On the 21st of September, Gala played with Milan in San Siro, Milano. The first half of the game concentrated in the midfield until Leonardo scores in the 44th minute, followed by Schevchenko a minute later. Gala although dominating the second half, sadly scores one and lost the game 2-1. A week later Gala was playing against Chelsea in Stamford Bridge. When everyone was expecting a continuous Chelsea pressure, Gala was coming to the other side with more dangers. Yet, Chelsea, with its experienced player Petrescu scored 1 goal leaving Gala as the last in the group with 1 point at the end of 3 games. The media was angry. Hurriyet [20] used the title of Is this how it was supposed to be? criticizing the unsuccessful results where Milliyet was again trying to attack the referee.

On the 20th of October 1999, Gala was playing with Chelsea at home. The stadium was full and there were big masses outside of Ali Sami Yen. I was one of them and having not purchased my I just could not get inside. Having watched the game in a coffee shop nearby the stadium, I was being devastated with every passing second. Gala lost the game 5-0 thanks to its ‘lost’ defense who insisted on leaving empty spaces for the Chelsea forwards and who kept on implementing flawed offside traps. Fatih Terim said ‘We deserved it’ while Hurriyet called the night a torture. The commentator was in the mood of the final whistle to go back home. Fatih Terim, hosted a press conference that week underlining that they will do everything to join the UEFA cup. A week later, Galatasaray was going to Germany and thanks to its 3.5 million immigrants was playing ‘home’. A balanced game was silenced by Hertha’s penalty with Rekdal, making everyone watching the game ask theirselves ‘again?’. Whatever happens in the half time, Gala starts the game with an unbelievable pace and strength scoring 4 goals, and winning the game 1-4 away. Gala was returning home opimtistically for its UEFA chances as Chelsea drew with Milan 1-1 in Giuseppe Meazza. This mean that Galatasraay needed a win but nothing else to continue its European journey. Similarly, Milan needed a win to join the 2nd round conditional on Berlin’s point loss in Stamford Bridge. Aware of the pressure and high expectations, Fatih Terim, referring to the media was underlining how the mindsets had to change and how the media should not make them feel horrible if they happen to disqualify[21].  He added ‘We want to represent our country well[22]’.

On the 3rd of November, Gala conceded the first goal in the 20th minute with Weah. Capone stroke back 7 minutes later. On the 51st minute Federico Ginuti scored once again ruining Gala’s motivation. Yet, the team recovered and dominated the game, unfortunately the goal was not coming. It was the 87th minute when Hakan Sukur scored an amazing header tying the game. The stadium was going crazy chanting maybe louder than ever. The commentator was lionizing the team asking ‘Why not?’. It was the 90th minute when Gala had a penalty. A big burden was on the shoulders of Umit Davala. He scored and the stadium went crazy. Milliyet, referring to Hakan Sukur-Fatih Terim dialogue, had a new title: ‘We shook Europe[23]’. Star Newspaper, taking a bold stance from this point on started its humiliations that was going to continue until the end of the Cup: The right top corner questions whether really Milan is the best team of the world. The title cannot be translated directly but it is a very colloquial and inappropriate way of asking ‘did we win?’ The right end corner highlights that Gala continues to its journey in Europe.

Did we win? (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Y7EmnseWbAU/Setledpt-FI/AAAAAAAABgg/azl48m_APi8/s400/P1100235.JPG&imgrefurl=http://baklavasina.blogspot.com/2009_03_01_archive.html&usg=__zQgrFKx8xZOEpU6-7pTD3h90XnA=&h=400&w=297&sz=35&hl=en&start=20&um=1&tbnid=6hGqzWwWd3pasM:&tbnh=124&tbnw=92&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dyendik%2Bmi%2Blan%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1C1GGLS_enUS352US352%26sa%3DG%26um%3D1)

England Chelsea 6 3 2 1 10 3 +7 11
Germany Hertha Berlin 6 2 2 2 7 10 -3 8
Turkey Galatasaray 6 2 1 3 10 13 -3 7
Italy Milan 6 1 3 2 6 7 -1 6

Galatasaray was starting the 3rd round of the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup against Bologna, and their infamous players like Signori, Ventola and Pagliuca. On the 23rd of November, Gala continued its total football, its pace and its ambition carrying it from the last match. The Italians were not practicing Catenaccio. Blended with Gala’s offensive attempts, spectators were seeing mutual attacks with countless caroms, which ended up being a goal for the Italian side. Yet, in the 83rd minute, Gala scored in a way that resembled to all of its goals in the previous international matches: A loop from the wings to the box that got finalized by a free player. This time it wasHakan Sukur making a header, staying in the air for more than a few seconds…a goal that should be remembered for years:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/OtHxLiZ73RA" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Galatasaray came to Istanbul with confidence. Using the wings perfect in the previous matches, Gala practiced its best strength once again, coming from the right wing and passing it to an area near the box…Hasan Sas scored in the 5th minute. Commentator Ercan Taner shouted ‘Paglicua…The giant goalkeeper of the World Cups !’ With that pace, the stadium was more optimistic for more goals…Yet it was Ventola who scored due to a mistake in Gala’s defenders’ miscommunication. On the 29th minute, from 30meterscenter to rights side of the box was scored wby Umit. The last seconds were as painful as it was with Milan. Milliyet[24], was much bolder before with the title of ‘We are Proud’ and with the subtitle of ‘We rolled them…We have beaten another Italian. We have accomplished another victory. All the country was ‘one’ and we clapped Galatasaray’. Hurriyet[25], who were more conscious of all the newspapers, with the confidence of being one in the last 16, used ‘Delicious Spagetti’ as its title. Fatih Terim, in his press conference underlined that Turks will not be the comforted anymore, they will be consolatory.’

In the fourth round, it was Borussia Dortmund with Chapusitat, Moller etc.  One can easily say that 75% stadium was full of Galatasaray supporters. Torches, chants, flags… This was not Germany, this could not have been Germany. In the 32nd minute, Arif assisted from the left wing to the penalty area, where Hakan being the only forward among 4 defenders bounced the ball and scored against Lehman. The second goal came from Gheorge Hagi, and I do not think that I can describe this goal. I encourage everyone to see the goal:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/tiUW1Uok9XM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Gala, with Hagi’s leadership dominated the second half as well as it dominated the game…It was around the 90th minute where thw whole stadium started yelling ‘Turkey is proud of with you!’ . With the final whistle, the pitch got crowded with thousands of supporters coming down to the field from their seats. Starting from this match Gala’s coverage in the print media covered the whole first page. Sabah said ‘Danke Schon’ to the German supporters. Milliyet subtitled ‘Another victory’ and said ’Germans could not hide their bewilderment’. Hurriyet, used a full page to reflect the titles & comments of the foreign media lionizing Fatih Terim as a person worth of a statue. Interestingly, every quote that has been chosen, unless manipulated, was exaggerated. In Istanbul, Gala drew 0-0 and qualified for the quarter finals.
In the quarter-finals, the opponents were Real Mallorca with infamous players like Eto’o and Lauren. The first game was in Mallorca and Galatasaray started the first minute pressing and pushing the Spanish team to the box as much as possible. Mallorca resisted it until the 44th minute as it took twenty minutes for Gala to score 4 goals, 3 of them being lobs over Leo Franco. Although Etame score at the 78th minute, everyone knew by heart that Gala was in the semis.

On the 23rd of March, Gala was relaxed and played a more controlled football winning the game 2-1 in Istanbul. Sabah and Milliyet chose ‘Adios Amigos’ as the title, referring to the Spanish commentators remarks ‘Gala has ousted the Italians and Germans before from the Cup. Now it was our turn’. No wonder the nationalities were targeted over the names of the teams. Somehow it was not Leeds United or Arsenal that panicked for the semi-final seeds but it was the ‘Brits’. Hurriyet utilized ‘No one can hold you’ as the title, again pointing out to the interest of the European media to the match. As one can easily see, the media exaggerated, lionized the Gala, underlined the weakness of the European teams particularly identifying them with their nationalities and used a derogatory language whenever it could. Yet, things were going to get uglier as Turkish media was taking the revenge of decades that was spent in front of the EU gate.

Adios Amigos

Adios Amigos (ID=EYGSzFgeWxQtcsBeCX8LYNWtCL8OBzkU56gmN15OvUg_x3D_)

Galatasaray’s opponent in the semi-finals was Leeds United with Lee Bowyer, Ian Hart, Viduka, Kewell etc. On the 6th of April, Gala was stressed for the first time as this was the first round that Gala started the play-off at home. The death of 2 English supporters from the previous night had put an insurmountable tension to the game. Yet, Gala secured its win with two goals again with the combination of Hakan Sukur and Capone, the Brazilian defender. On the 20th of April, there were hardly any Turks within the stadium. The whistling was bothersome when Gala stepped on the field. Every time the Turkish side touched the ball, the boos got stronger. It was the 5th minute when Gala gained a penalty and scored it silencing the stadium. Eric Bakke stroke back on the 16th minute with a header after a corner kick. Then, Leeds started coming very dangerously. On the 42nd minute Gala started a counterattack, Hagi’s pass from the midfield to the free area in front of Hakan who was sprinting on the left wing, led him to complete a run of 70 meters and score a goal from a point close to the penalty spot. Leeds scored on the 68th minute again after a corner thanks to Taffarel’s wrong timing. Regardless, Gala was in the finals. The media’s reaction was unaltered. Yet, it was Star’s first page that constituted every aspect of my argument. Firstly, the title was a word play blending the word ‘Donkey’ and ‘England’ in the same word. The sub-title said: ‘Our lions have given the necessary lesson to the Englishmen, who acted in the nastiest way possible in the past 15 days. For the first time, a Turkish team is in the UEFA finals’. The main photo that fully covered the first page was taken when Hagi took the penalty, and the angle was chosen such that the spectators’ faces were seeable. The photo had small boxes distributed randomly around the post that tried to reflect! What spectators were possibly thinking during the goal. One of them said ‘Oh, we could not scare the Turks’, another one, referring to one of the fields in WW I that the Allied Powers lost, said ‘Even our grandparents did not pass the Dardanel’. A similar one underscored ‘Even if we play 50 times, this team will beat us that many times’…

Donkey + England (http://www.komedimerkezi.com/resimler/dingiltere-1061669923.jpg)

It was not the economy, it was not the stock prices, it was not the domestic & foreign debts that mattered. On the 17th of May, every place was yellow & red and Galatasaray was in Parken Stadium in Copanhagen ready to face Arsenal. A team of giants like Patrick Vieira, Davor Suker, Thierry Henry, Ray Parlour, Tony Adams… The game started fierce with mutual attacks. Following video indicates how competitive the game has been:

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.youtube.com/v/rxWhewfVzH4″ width=”425″ height=”350″ wmode=”transparent” /]

At the end of the game, the commentator was crying shouting ‘The cup is ours’.

The print media as usual had titles such as ‘Nation’s Sons, Fatih’s Lions’, ‘Gala is the best of Europe…We applaud you’, ‘Pride of the Turk’…

18 May 2000 (http://img14.imageshack.us/img14/2197/uefa1pc.gif)


As one can see, As Cetin Altan[26], one of the most prominent Turkish political columnists ever, once argued in Milliyet, the football has become the main tool to cover up the silence of the Turks in fields such as arts, science and technology. It has also become a tool of political expression and advancement.  As he underlined on the eve of the infamous Turkey-Brazil game of the 2002 World Cup, ‘A nation of 68 million, is trying to get up from the psycho-sociological hunger for a universal success, tying all of its hopes in a football victory’. Such an argument is very valid for the Turkish nation that is accepted to be the sons of the great Ottoman Empire that spanned from Vienna to Iran and all the way to Algeria. The modern Turkey, however, has identity problems as it continuously seeks to stabilize its Westerner stance while not forgetting about its centuries-long traditions and the Muslim majority population [27 ].

Altan’s article is a good emergence point to understand the role of football within Turkey. But his argument of hunger for success lacks the problematic engineering of the Turkish identity. Thus, to understand the repercussions of the ‘us vs them’ mentality one has to look at the identity politics during the emergence of modern Turkey and the way it has been brought up until today.

During Galatasray’s UEFA Cup journey in 1999&2000 the Turkish media reflected what Joao N. Coelho argues in the case of Portugal as ‘the periphery trauma,’ or ‘the fear of being peripheral, out of Europe, out of the occident.’14 In the case of Turkey, it was the economical, political and sociological distance with Europe which was a source of emotional disturbance. Not astoundingly, sport, especially football became a functional and soft arena to express such emotional anger as well as pride. This is the sole reason why the enthusiastic coverage of the games against European teams made ample use of nationalistic historical references harking back to the time of the Ottoman Empire, underlining the Turkish strength against the European weaknesses.

How to cite this article: Velihan Erdogdu, “Turkey,” Soccer Politics Pages,http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp (accessed on (date)).

[1] Pg.147

[2] Barber, B. (1996)  Jihad vs McWorld. New York: Ballantine

Latouche, S. (1996) The Westernization of the World, Cambridge: Polity

Ritzer G.  (2004) Rethinking Globalization: Glocalization/Grobalization and Something/Nothing, Sociological Theory, 21 (3):              193 – 209

[3] Hannerz, U. (1996) Transnational Connections, London: Routledge

Watson, J. (1997) Basque Football Rivalries in the Twentieth Century, Oxford: Berg

Tomlinson, J. (1999) Globalization and Culture, Cambridge: Polity

Pieterse, J. N. (2007) Ethnicities and Global Multiculture, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield

[4] Whannel, G. (1992) Fields in Vision, London:Routledge

[5] Anderson, B. (1983) Imagined Communities, London:Verso

Gellner, E. (1983) Nations and Nationalism, Ithaca, NY:Cornell University Press

[6] Hobbsawm, E. (1990) Nations and Nationalism since 1780, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Radikal, 20 May 2000

[8] Emrence, Cem (2007) Playing With Global City: The Rise and Fall of a City Team, The Journal of Popular Culture. Vol 40, Number 4

[9] Emrence, Cem (2007)

[10] Taha Akyol, Milliyet, 18 May 2000.

[11] Sami Kohen, Milliyet, 19 May 2000

[12] Oktay Eksi, Hurriyet, 18 May 2000.

[13] Emrence, Cem (2007)

[14] O’Donnell, H. (1994) Mapping the Mythical: A Geopolitics of National Sporting Stereotypes, Discourse & Society, 5 (3): 345-80

[15] Yilmaz, Bahri (2008) The Relations of Turkey with the European Union: Candidate Forever?, Center for European Studies                         Working Paper Series, Number 167

[16] Yilmaz, Bahri (2008)

[17] Onis, 1999

[18] Onis, 1999

Center for European Studies Working Paper Series #167 (2008)
The Relations of Turkey with the European Union:
Candidate Forever?

[19] http://www.milliyet.com.tr/1999/12/10/spor/ags.html

[20] http://webarsiv.hurriyet.com.tr/1999/12/10/162488.asp

[21] http://webarsiv.hurriyet.com.tr/1999/09/29/146550.asp

[22] http://www.milliyet.com.tr/1999/11/03/spor/ags.html

[23] http://webarsiv.hurriyet.com.tr/1999/11/03/154259.asp

[24 http://www.milliyet.com.tr/1999/11/04/spor/ags.html

[25] http://webarsiv.hurriyet.com.tr/1999/08/26/139050.asp

[26]Cetin Altan, Milliyet, 5 June 2002

[ [27]Kaya, Ibrahim. Social Theory and Later Modernities: the Turkish Experience. Liverpool University Press 2004

Page by Velihan Erdogdu

How to cite this article: “Turkish European Dreams,” Written by Velihan Erdogdu, Risa Isard, Danny Mammo and Brian Kim (2009), Edited and Updated by Maggie Lin and Patricia Spears (2013), Soccer Politics Pages, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp (accessed on (date)).

One thought on “Turkish European Dreams

  1. Pingback: Soccer as a Diplomatic Weapon | NU Middle East Review

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *