Do you know what hate, in its essence and heart-wrenching ugliness, truly is? Not only the concept of genuinely disliking something with every fibre of your being, but the sensation of slowly falling into a black hole filled to its brink with unhealthy, dirty thoughts? It is a feeling that, when activated deep below our day-to-day, unextraordinary consciousness, completely robs us of our humanity and compassion. It brings out the worst in us. Basically, hatred is what keeps Turkish football in 2011-2012 alive.
Today, my newfound and football-crazed friends, we have reached the proverbial impasse. Regardless of what happens tonight at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in Kadıköy, Turkish football has lost its vigour. Papers were definitely pushed, Lira in great quantities were definitely suddenly found in sports bags where they did not quite belong, and the Turkish Football Federation has made a complete and utter mess of the proceedings and an even bigger ass of themselves. 10 people have been given jail sentences for bribing players, staff members, club officials in order to fix scores (“bought matches”, in layman terms). All the criminals acted, in one way or another, to give a certain club a certain edge, and yet said club has remained without judgement or penalty. So, in this final week of Turkish football in what will forever be known as a truly tainted season, quelle surprise, as Platini would say: It’s all about Fenerbahçe again, standing as ever in the spotlight and on their very own stage this time around, with Galatasaray trucking along on the ride in a supporting role.
Something extremely vile, and frankly wrong in every meaning of the word, happened to Turkey and its unofficial main religion last year, and while the gory details and injustices have been laughed at and denounced by a worldwide audience, the truth has yet to be dragged out into the light to be dealt with. Most likely, nothing will change during the summer, and the ever-present vultures of modern-day Turkish journalism will continue stirring the pot and pushing out their own agendas. This war is their saviour in a time of digitalization in Western media, but it is also in many ways their creation. This Federation-approved and sloppily concocted “Süper Final” malarky couldn’t turn the tides from drowning the few good men struggling to keep the fire of Turkish football burning. Instead, the same fire became one of discontent, replacing the art and elegance that sometimes showed itself in these country-shaking derbies with anger and malice and loathing.
Tonight, then, Fenerbahçe take on their eternal rivals Galatasaray, at their own fortress with the support of 50509 members of the “Fenerbahçe Republic,” and not a single soul other than the members of the opposing team will be wearing the yellow and red of the scholars from Galata. Nobody wants them to win. And, nobody wants to know what will happen if Fatih Terim manages to steal a point (like Galatasaray Great Greame Souness did), and became immortal and become a champion behind enemy lines. Galatasaray haven’t won here in over a decade, but a single point is enough. And Fenerbahçe fans…they remember, they will never forget what happened last when they lost a point in the final fixture of the season.
The old “Welcome To Hell” banner that used to greet countless European teams attempting to beat Galatasaray in their continental heyday at Ali Sami Yen would fit in perfectly tonight, even if the stands for tonight are already bathing in yellow and navy blue. Doomsday is here, ladies and gentleman. All bets are off, and the guns are loaded. For Fenerbahçe, losing has been proved not to be an option. For Galatasaray, this could be the biggest middle finger they could ever possibly imagine to stick in the face of their nemesis. After all, this is about one thing and one thing only: hatred, managing to out-hate the opponent, hoping that it’ll lead to a hollow trophy at the end. Let’s hope Turkish football survives past these 90 minutes.