The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) have found a novel way of dealing with hooliganism problems – could the Premier League, the League of Ireland or the Irish League follow suit?
Following crowd troubles in a pre-season friendly match against Ukrainian champions,Shakhtar Donesk in July the TFF decided that Fenerbahce should play two games ‘behind closed doors’ .Later they had a slight change of heart and agreed to admit spectators – albeit only women, and children under 12 ,to their home game against Manisapor on Tuesday night.
The Turkish Football Federation insisted that no male spectators were allowed to enter the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.
An estimated crowd of more than 41,000 women and children attended the match in Istanbul, The match which ended in a 1-1 draw 1-1, kicked off after players from both teams , in a gesture of friendship, threw flowers at the fans, while the visiting team were greeted with applause rather than the more customary raucous chants they were used to.
Similar rules will apply to other matches and clubs where there is crowd trouble. Children Under 12 will have to produce a Birth Certificate or ID proving age to gain free admission.
The TFF said: “After this decision, which is a first in world football, there will be no silent and unexciting games played without spectators. The change will make teams remember the beauty and values of football”
Fenerbahce’s Captain, Alex de Sousa, said: “This memory will stay with me forever. It’s not always that you see so many women and children in one game.”
“We have to thank the ladies for coming to support us,” said the Fenerbahce defender Joseph Yobo, -on loan from Everton. “It’s difficult to play without fans.”
Manisaspor midfielder Omer Aysan was also complimentary about the attendance : “It was such a fun and pleasant atmosphere.”
Fans entering the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium were searched by all-women police officers.
Before the match, Yasemin Mercil, Fenerbahce’s female executive board member had said: “This really is a historic day. For the first time in the world, only women and children will watch a game. The women know all the chants. The same anthems, the same chants will be sung.”And they were but in a more restrained manner.