A fight erupted between security forces and Kurdish militants in southeast Turkey after soccer authorities had punished the region’s Amedspor club and banned one of its players for 12 matches for “ideological propaganda”.
Violence has been spreading since the end of a ceasefire between the army and Kurdish militants in July. The clash that has been ongoing since 1984 has left more than 40,000 dead and is now spilling into the streets of towns, many now under curfew.
Turkey’s Football Federation said on Thursday it had imposed a ban on midfielder Deniz Naki in addition to a 19,500-lira ($7,000) fine over “unsporting” comments made as second-division Amedspor beat Bursaspor last week to win a place in the cup quarter-finals.
“We dedicate this victory as a gift to those who have lost their lives and those wounded in the repression in our land which has lasted for more than 50 days,” Naki, 26, wrote in a Facebook posting after the match.
“We as Amedspor have not bowed our heads and will not do so. We went onto the pitch with our belief in freedom and won,” said the Germany-born Kurdish player, whose parents come from Tunceli in eastern Turkey. He represented Germany at U-21 level.
This conflict-ridden issue in the southeast has resulted in nationalist sentiment on both sides and raised deep worry among NATO allies who fear it could hamper collective action against ISIS militants across Turkey’s borders in Syria and Iraq.
Curfew in Old City
With the ban on Naki and a fine against Amedspor, the federation ruled on Thursday that Amedspor plays the cup quarter-final without spectators on Feb. 10 due to “ugly and bad” chants by fans at a match last week.
During the match, Amedspor fans chanted: “Everywhere is Sur, everywhere resistance,” as they referred to the historic walled quarter of the city of Diyarbaki which has been under unceasing curfew since December.
Amedspor representative Ekrem Yesil wants to appeal the rulings, to Europe’s ruling body UEFA among others, according to Reuters.
“These rulings are unjust,” he said. “A second-division side is fighting for the cup and has been able to create a quality team. In football terms, it has come to an unacceptable point.”
The state says curfews have been imposed in the region to help security forces in removing barricades, explosive devices and ditches set up by militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.
Since the launch of concerted security operations in December, hundreds of militants have been killed along with a number of security force members, the army says. As for Pro-Kurdish politicians, they say that the fighting left more than 100 civilians dead and forced tens of thousands of residents to migrate. ($1 = 2.9125 liras)