ISTANBUL: Turkish football faced new questions over the credibility of the game yesterday after an anarchic clash between Galatasaray and Trabzonspor ended with just seven footballers from the Black Sea side on the pitch and one of its players showing the referee the red card. The Sunday night Super Lig clash between Galatasaray of Istanbul and Trabzonspor of Trabzon-one of the most venemous rivalries in the Turkish game-was marked by a litany of penalties, ill discipline and poor refereeing. Trabzonspor had already had two players sent off by referee Deniz Ates Bitnel when Belgian defender Luis Cavanda was deemed to have brought down Umut Bulut in the penalty box in the 86th minute and was himself dismissed. Trabzonspor players remonstrated with the referee and in the fracas Trabzonspor defender Salih Dursun pinched the referee’s red card and brandished it in front of Bitnel.
Bitnel then recovered the card, using it to send Dursun off and Selcuk Inan stepped up to score the penalty, winning the game 2-1 to Galatasaray. “There are messages from all over Turkey, saying ‘we are ashamed'” Trabzonspor chairman Muharrem Usta said after the game. “Tonight, Salih Dursun showed the red card to Turkish football. This is not a symbol of rebellion. It is a symbol of rebirth,” he added. Galatasaray chairman Dursun Ozbek admitted Monday that the refereeing had not been up to scratch, the Dogan news agency reported. “There were decisions that were favourable for both sides, there were decisions that went against them.”
‘SHARE THE DISAPPOINTMENT’
“A card that was 100 percent right,” headlined the Fanatik sports daily above a picture of Dursun showing the red card and listing six major errors the referee made in the game.
Far from sanctioning their player, Trabzonspor announced the club started printing T-shirts showing Dursun make the already iconic gesture for sale in the official shop.
Hundreds of Trabzonspor’s famously fanatical supporters marched through the centre of the city Monday, all brandishing red cards in support of the player, television pictures showed.
Local officials in the Macka district of Trabzon mulled erecting a statue in honour of the player’s gesture while Trabzonspor supporters in the western region of Kocaeli lodged a criminal complaint against the referee for “abuse of power” and “inciting hatred”.
The head of Turkey’s Central Referee’s Commission, Kuddusi Muftuoglu, told reporters that Bitnel had made several mistakes and his performance was upsetting.
“We share the disappointment of Trabzonspor. We reward successful referees and take measures against unsuccessful ones,” he said, raising the prospect Bitnel could now be “rested”.
Turkish football has seen a huge influx of foreign talent in the last years and the game saw Netherlands star Wesley Sneijder and Germany’s Lukas Podolski turning out for Galatasaray.
But the sport in Turkey remains shadowed by the sometimes appalling refereeing, low attendances, the shadow of a 2011 match-fixing scandal and the failure to make any impact in the Champions League.
Turkish media meanwhile noted Dursun’s action had a precedent back in 1995 when English legend Paul Gascoigne, playing for Rangers, showed a yellow card to referee Dougie Smith, in a Scottish Premiership clash with Hibernian. – AFP