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Football federation under fire after row over Saudi-hosted Super Cup – Turkish News


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The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) is facing severe criticism for allowing the Turkish Super Cup final between two Istanbul giants to be played in Riyadh, only to postpone it hours before kickoff due to a row with its Saudi hosts.

The highly-anticipated match on Dec. 29 between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe had been due to be played in Riyadh, but it was postponed before kickoff after Saudi organizers refused to allow players to warm up wearing shirts featuring the image of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern-day Türkiye, to celebrate the republic’s centenary.

In a joint statement, the two teams and TFF said the match had been postponed due to “mishaps in the organization” while thanking the match organizers.

Already under fire for allowing the match to be played in Saudi Arabia rather than in Türkiye as part of the republic’s centenary celebrations, TFF head Mehmet Büyükekşi found himself under renewed criticism over the row with Saudi hosts.

The dispute added to Büyükekşi’s woes as it followed a separate incident involving MKE Ankaragücü’s former president, Faruk Koca, who attacked referee Halil Umut Meler after a first division match in the Turkish capital Ankara on Dec. 11.

Despite a temporary suspension of matches, leagues resumed on Dec. 19, drawing ire for what many perceive as the federation’s lackluster response.

Koca appeared to be incensed at Meler for sending off one of his players and then awarding a stoppage-time goal that allowed visiting Çaykur Rizespor to leave Ankara with a 1-1 draw.

A former member of parliament for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Koca resigned as president through the club’s website. Despite Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç confirming his arrest and questioning, he was later released pending trial, sparking further reactions.

Speaking at a ceremony in Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan underlined that turning sports into a political issue “is wrong, misguided and serves no purpose,” warning opposition parties not to abuse what was essentially a sports event.

The fans of both Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray – bitter rivals on the field – welcomed their decision not to take to the pitch on Dec. 29, rushing to the airport to show their solidarity.

Footage showed enthusiastic fans greeting the returning players, waving Turkish flags and pictures of Atatürk.

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