As any Leeds United fan knows, Istanbul is a dodgy place to be if you’re identifiable as a follower of any team pitted against a local side, whose fans tend to glory in a reputation for bloodthirstiness with “Welcome to Hell” banners, throat-slitting gestures and other manifestations of their complete lack of civilised conduct and behaviour. Leeds fans know this better and more painfully than most after the savage murder in 2000 of two of their number on the eve of a UEFA Cup semi final between Galatasaray and United. Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight were knifed to death in Taksim Square – the amount of justice meted out since then for their senseless slaughter would fit comfortably, disgracefully, inside a peanut.
Now the madmen of Istanbul are at it again, as another supporter of a team visiting from outside Turkey has met an untimely death at the hands of lunatic cowards armed with knives. Marko Ivkovic was stabbed and killed on November 21 in Istanbul in front of the venue where a Turkish Airlines Euroleague game between Galatasaray Liv Hospital and the visiting side was being played. The name of the game is unimportant – basketball or football. Once again, as in 2000, the message has been sent out that Istanbul is not a safe or a civilised place for supporters of visiting teams to be seen or heard. And once again, local authorities in Turkey are leaning over backwards to blame the murdered rather than the murderers – Istanbul police saying that the killing was the result of a fight between Red Star’s supporters. The Serbian club Liv Hospital claimed in a written statement that the 25-year-old Marko Ivkovic was “killed by Galatasaray hooligans” and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic voiced “outrage over the monstrous murder,” according to a government statement on November 22. Vucic also said that Galatasaray coach Ergin Ataman would not be welcome in Serbia after he “accused the killed young man and all other Red Star fans of terrorism,” the Serbian government statement said.
All of this harks uncomfortably back to the murder of the two Leeds supporters, when a campaign of misinformation aimed to heap blame on Leeds fans as a group, labelling the Turkish murderers as sturdy patriots. Such is the warped sense of right and wrong, the utter absence of any sense of justice, in a city and a country which appears to embrace the knife culture as something to be proud of.
UEFA acted like a timid old woman in 2000 – in that it failed to act at all, in any meaningful or effective way. On a few occasions since then, when the animal fans of an animal club have acted to bring further disgrace on the game, the buffoons at UEFA have continued to cower behind their desks, afraid, seemingly, of any risk of upsetting the cowards and thugs of Istanbul, be they on the streets or in the local corridors of power.
Will anything happen now? Probably not. Istanbul is a blind spot for sporting authorities, it seems. Will still more innocent visitors to “Hell” have to die, before anything effective is done? Sadly, that is quite probably going to be the case.
It’s way past time for severe action. Individuals should be brought to justice by local powers who are more inclined, it seems, to make excuses and protect the guilty, the murderers. If the authorities in Istanbul are unable or unwilling to do this, then the teams, in whatever sport, that represent that city should be banned, forthwith and sine die, from competition outside the borders of Turkey. Let them slake their thirst for blood and violence on each other, let them be a local difficulty. They should not be welcome in civilised countries, neither should teams from nations which don’t routinely harbour tawdry killers be expected to visit such a very backward part of the world.
Sport and the rest of the world can do without Galatasaray and the thugs and cowards of Istanbul who wear their colours and stain their reputation with the blood of fans who simply wanted to watch a game, but ended up losing their lives. How many more will die before this simple truth will be recognised by the simpering fools of UEFA and the other European sports governing bodies?
RIP Chris and Kev – and now sadly also Marko Ivkovic.
Good article but I think you will find its only Galatasary fans who deserve to be banned. Besiktas showed total respect (club and fans) when we played them the season after the murders and Fenebarce have no record like GS.
God help us if and when they ever gain admittance to the European Union, they have been banging on the door for so long now that the greybeards in power are finding it hard to come up with any more excuses to refuse them admittance, it’s only a matter of time.
Rest assured it will never happen, it is not just Greece and Cyprus who want to keep them out. there are many other Europeans who feel the same.
I always love your articles…
However, I have to totally agree with the point made by Richard Willgoose.
I have worn a Leeds shirt and have mingled, quite happily, with a large number of Besiktas supporters – with absolutely no issues whatsoever.
In fact, I found them to be amongst the most accommodating and friendly fans I’ve encountered.
It’s always dangerous to tar all fans with the same brush… as we know.
That aside, thanks again for your articles – even if I do only post a comment about as frequently as we’ve beaten Derby, this millennium.
We should send the Wealdstone Warrior over there to sort them out.
“You want some?”
A great article, which stirs up my very long memory of a very distressing time, which should have been a great time for Leeds and all Leeds supporters.
I too remember those incompetent idiots at UEFA, almost tip toeing around the arrogant and totally obnoxious Galatasaray club officials, who never once apologised for the whole disgusting situation.
In fact, the Galatasaray officials actually tried to accuse Leeds of trying to gain favour and advantage from the tragic, murderous situation, when Leeds dared to demand that the Galatasaray thugs, should be banned from coming to the 2nd leg of the Semi Final at Elland Road, a few weeks later.
At that time, I seem to remember that the clueless UEFA boss Johansson, saying that he was a Galatasaray supporter and that Galatasaray supporters would definitely attend the 2nd leg at Elland Road, no matter what had happened.
It was also revealed that Galatasaray also had officials on the UEFA committee, which is why UEFA always seem to sweep things under the carpet, when Galatasaray thugs misbehave.
Thankfully the incompetent Johansson backed down and the Galatasaray thugs were banned from the Elland Road 2nd leg game, but it is very concerning that their savage supporters are still getting away with murder.
I got stabbed up 3 times by the x wife can never understand why so called men need to use a knife/weapons RIP marko
It’s lucky not more fans have been killed by them galatasary scumbags, look at when the played man u, arsenal and psg. Hell look at just about every game they’ve played in europe. They must have some dirt on eufa or something, how they’ve never been banned is beyond me. Heck they should of been banned before they even played us when they attacked the man u players in the tunnel.
Agree with others here would be unfair to ban all Turkish clubs though. It seems to be galatasary that are the problem, besiktas and febernache don’t tend to go around Europe causing bedlam wherever they go.
please do not stain all and sundry. Most are football loving fans that are law abiding. Thank god the few are the exception. RIP
I recognise that, but I’m not in the business here of soft-pedalling the point I’m trying to make – which is that there’s trouble and misery and worse time and time again, from ONE club – and nothing is done about it. The fact that it’s not ALL of them is obvious and has to remain implicit.
Pictures, from Turkey. Today.
Leeds first. Right is Red Star.
Bottom left Olympiakos and Partizan Belgrade, right CSKA and Spartak Moskow. ( turkish said will be next)
I think this bears out my deeply-held conviction that they are scum.
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Also muslims from Kosovo, today, congratulate for murder of our friend. This is message from muslim guy who lives in south of Serbia, near the Kosovo.
“”- Hello, my Muslim brothers. I have some information. “Delije” (Red Star) are coming to the match with Galatasaray in your city. They come alone, “incognito”, without the police. They plan to riot, as they did in Athens last year against PAO. Then they won 13 G (fan group). You need to attack and kill Serbian pussies. Good luck.””