Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) — Fans of Turkey’s Fenerbahce soccer team, who chanted anti-government slogans, were denied entry to the stadium during a weekend match in the central city of Kayseri, according to a statement from the team Tuesday.
The Turkish channel “TRT Haber” confirmed the decision on Tuesday, saying that in the match between Kayserispor and Fenerbahce, the fans of the visiting team will not be allowed to enter the stadiums. According to TRT Haber, the decision was made for “security reasons” following a meeting of the Regional Security Council.
“We learned with surprise that our fans will not be allowed to be in the stadium when we play against Yucatel Kayserispor on Saturday, March 4, 2023, a decision made by the Kayseri Regional Security Council,” the statement read.
Fenerbahçe said it was “in no way possible” that the team would accept the decision, describing it as “strange and unrelated to sporting standards, in a way that deepens social polarization”.
“It has no meaning other than to hinder our fans’ desire to support our team and punish our club,” the statement added.
The team demanded to know the reasons for banning its fans, and called on those involved in the decision to review it.
At Saturday’s match, Fenerbahçe fans chanted anti-government slogans calling for its resignation, amid criticism of the government’s response and earthquake relief efforts.
In a statement on Sunday, Kayserispor, the host city of next weekend’s match, issued a statement condemning the “contempt that tries to take over the stadiums”.
And the team said: “We present to the public that the Kayserispor community stands by the state and the nation, and shares our patriotic pain from the heart in these days of disaster, and it is against the dirty politics and contempt that tries to control the stadiums, and we condemn it.”
Similar incidents were repeated during the Besiktas-TAV Antalyaspor match, when football fans threw “dolls” of animals into the stadium to show their support for the children affected by the earthquake.
The match was stopped at 4 minutes and 17 seconds to correspond to the time the earthquake struck southeastern Turkey at 4:17 am local time on February 6.
Fans showered the stadium with teddy bears and other stuffed toys of all colors and sizes, which will be sent to the earthquake-affected children by Besiktas FC.
Some Besiktas fans also chanted “the government resigns”, protesting the response of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to the earthquake, which many in Turkey consider slow and insufficient.
Erdogan’s partner in government, Nationalist Movement Party Chairman Devlet Bahceli, called for football matches to be played without fans and to resign from Besiktas’ membership.