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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Following a dispute over the Saudi-hosted Super Cup, President Erdogan of Turkey calls for the removal of politics from sports

<p>On Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed criticism after a conflict with the Saudi hosts caused the Turkish Super Cup final between two Istanbul heavyweights to be postponed.</p>
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<p>The Turkish Super Cup match between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray was scheduled to take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Friday night.</p>
<p>However, it was called off before the game because Saudi organizers forbade players from donning jerseys with political statements.</p>
<p>In honor of the centennial of the republic, both teams had wanted to warm up in jerseys honoring Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the man who founded modern-day Turkey, according to Turkish media.</p>
<p>The two clubs and the Turkish Football Federation thanked the match’s organizers and said in a joint statement that “mishaps in the organization” were the reason for the postponement of the game.</p>
<p>For permitting the game to be played in Saudi Arabia rather than in Turkey as part of the nation’s centennial festivities, the Turkish Football Federation faced criticism.</p>
<p>Erdogan’s administration was accused by Ataturk’s opposition party, the CHP, of failing to uphold Turkey’s honor.</p>
<p>Ozgur Ozel, the head of the CHP, said, “Neither the clubs nor the Football Federation are to be blamed.”</p>
<p>“Everyone knows how we protect the honor of Turkey and the Turkish people,” Erdogan said at an event in Istanbul.</p>
<p>He went on to say that the politicization of sports “is wrong, misguided, and serves no purpose,” cautioning opposing parties from misusing what was fundamentally a sporting event.</p>
<p>The supporters of Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, who are fierce competitors on the field, applauded their choice to skip Friday’s game and hurried to the airport to express their support.</p>
<p>Video captured ecstatic spectators welcoming the returning athletes and waving Turkish flags and Ataturk posters.</p>
<p>The brutal murder of writer Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, an outspoken opponent of Riyadh, shattered ties between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, two Sunni regional rivals.</p>
<p>At the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, he was killed.</p>
<p>Western intelligence services claim that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved of Khashoggi’s murder, which set off a global outcry.</p>
<p>Erdogan did not identify the influential crown prince when he made the claim that the order to assassinate “came from the highest levels” of the Saudi government at the time.</p>
<p>He has subsequently made an effort to patch things up, going to Saudi Arabia in 2022.</p>

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