Turkish Super Cup Final in Saudi Arabia Postponed Amid T-Shirt Row

Turkish Super Cup final between Istanbul rivals Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, scheduled to take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was called off, attributed to a disagreement over players’ jerseys, has cast a spotlight on the interplay between sports, politics, and national identity.

Turkish Super Cup Final in Saudi Arabia Postponed Amid T-Shirt Row

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The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) and the two participating teams jointly announced the decision to postpone the final, citing some problems in its organization.

However, media reports and statements from the involved parties suggest that the matter lies in the teams’ desire to don T-shirts featuring the image of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the revered founder of the modern Turkish republic, during the pre-match warm-up.

According to reports from Haberturk television and other Turkish media outlets, players from both Galatasaray and Fenerbahce expressed their wish to wear T-shirts paying homage to Ataturk as part of the anniversary celebrations of the Turkish Republic.

However, Saudi organizers allegedly denied authorization for this symbolic gesture, leading to a refusal by the clubs to play at the King Saud University venue, also known as Al-Awwal Park stadium.

It is reported that Saudi authorities also prohibited banners featuring political slogans and Ataturk T-shirts from being displayed before the match, including those bearing Ataturk’s famous motto, “peace at home, peace in the world.”

The organizers released a statement saying that the cancellation was a result of the teams not adhering to match regulations, addressing their expectation to present the sport without any slogans outside its predefined scope. The statement expressed disappointment that the two teams failed to follow the agreed-upon terms.

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“We had been looking forward to holding the match on time in accordance with the international football rules and regulations, which require presenting the sport without any slogans outside its scope, especially since this was discussed with the Turkish Federation in the framework of the preparatory meetings for the match,” the statement.

Turkey’s national anthem would be played and its national flag displayed in the stadium, the disagreement over the tribute to Ataturk, overshadowing the clash between the Turkish football powerhouses.

The postponement of the 2023 Super Cup to a later date due to organizational disruptions. The statement expressed gratitude to the football federation of the host country and other relevant institutions for their efforts in organizing the event, leaving fans and football enthusiasts speculating on when and where the final will take place.

Many football fans had voiced their desire for the annual match to be played in Turkey, especially in 2023, as the country made its 100-year anniversary as a republic. The decision to host the final in Saudi Arabia, following strains in recent years.

The arrest of Faruk Koca, the president of Ankaragucu, for assaulting a referee and the suspension of the Turkish league had already cast a shadow over the nation’s football.

As Galatasaray and Fenerbahce players returned to Istanbul, they were greeted by hundreds of cheering fans at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport, waving Turkish flags and carrying images of Ataturk.

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