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Trabzonspor fans fight with Fenerbahce players in another dark day for Turkish football

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Supporters of Turkish football club Trabzonspor stormed the pitch and fought with Fenerbahce players and security forces following their team’s 3-2 loss on Sunday, in the latest incident in a league that has been marred by controversy this season.

Tempers flared when a Trabzonspor fan stormed the pitch after the final whistle and began running towards the celebrating Fenerbahce players, some of whom reacted by running towards him to try and strike him. Other fans then invaded the pitch as stewards tried to restore order.

Videos showed Belgium international Michy Batshuayi kicking a fan who had entered the pitch and Nigerian international Bright Osayi-Samuel punching another supporter.

In other images circulating on social media, a fan can be seen to threaten a visiting player with a corner flag and Fenerbahce’s goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic receiving a punch to the face.

Dozens more then stormed the pitch, as security forces tried to shield Fenerbahce players running off the field.

Following the violent scenes, Turkey’s interior minister Ali Yerlikaya announced the opening of an investigation into the incident.

“After the Trabzonspor-Fenerbahce football match played this evening, an investigation has been initiated immediately to identify the spectators who entered the pitch and to investigate the incidents that took place at the end of the match,” he wrote on X.

“Incidents of violence on football pitches are never acceptable.”

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) called the events “unacceptable” and said in a statement that “the necessary criminal sanctions will be imposed on those responsible for these incidents”.

Fenerbahce head coach Ismail Kartal said his players had not provoked fans and that his team was attacked, while Trabzonspor coach Abdullah Avci said the events at the end were upsetting.

Sunday’s violent scenes are the latest to plague the Turkish Super Lig this season.

The league was suspended for a week in December after a referee was attacked during a match between Ankaragucu and Rizespor.

Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca, alongside other men, attacked referee Halil Umut Meler on the pitch after the match, injuring the official.

Also in December, the Turkish Super Cup final between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, scheduled to be played in Riyadh, was cancelled after organisers refused a request by both clubs to wear T-shirts featuring the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, during the warm-up.

Turkish referee attacked after last-minute equaliser in Super Lig game

A number of Fenerbahce trips to Trabzon in recent times have also been marred by violence.

A 2016 game against Trabzonspor was abandoned in the closing minutes after an assistant referee was attacked by a home supporter.

The year before that the Fenerbahce team bus came under attack from a gunman en route to the airport on the way back from the neighbouring Black Sea city of Rize, leaving the driver seriously injured.

In 2014 a match between Trabzonspor and Fenerbahce was called off at half time after the Istanbul club’s players were pelted with objects thrown onto the pitch by home fans.

Trabzonspor, who won the Turkish title two years ago, also found themselves in the spotlight in 2015 when the club president locked the referee and his assistants inside the stadium overnight in protest at the decision not to award his team a penalty.

They were eventually released in the early hours of the following morning after a phone call from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Updated: March 18, 2024, 7:52 AM

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