ISTANBUL: Fenerbahce are facing a one-match ground closure after a political protest by fans.
The risk of action, in line with new restrictions on outbursts in sports stadia, followed increasing unrest in Turkey after corruption concerns threatened the office of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.
Police arrested seven Fenerbahce fans, including supporters group leader İlyas Bulcan, after Monday night’s 2-1 win over Torku Konyaspor for allegedly chanting political slogans during the game.
One section of Fenerbahce fans briefly chanted: “Erdogan thief!” and prompted a widespread chorus of: “We are soldiers of Mustafa Kemal [Ataturk].”
Erdogan has been targeted by football fans for the government’s stance against a corruption scandal whichexploded December 17.
After the weeks-long Gezi protests last summer, some groups started chanting anti-government/police and pro-Gezi slogans during matches.
With a new law announced only two weeks before the league started in August 2013, the ruling government brought in a ban on “ideological and/or political slogans” at stadiums though this has had no apparent effect until now.
Erdogan reportedly met Fenerbahce club executives last month and apparently asked the board to prevent chants against him and his AKP party. Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim replied: “We cannot tell our supporters what they should do or not.”
Fenerbahce are currently serving a European competition ban because of matchfixing allegations.