Maccabi Tel Aviv playing in TurkeyA lot of people are worried - really worried - about Maccabi Tel Aviv's soccer match (they insist on calling it 'football') in the Istanbul suburb of Besiktas on Thursday evening. The players were met at the airport by 2,500 policemen, the team has hired an additional security company and has asked UEFA - the European Football Federation - to send a representative, and Israeli fans who insisted on violating the National Security Council directive by going to the game have been told not to wear the Maccabi yellow and blue to the stadium.
Maccabi will be escorted by police throughout its 48-hour stay in Turkey, but its management decided to leave nothing to chance and also hired a private security company, as well as requesting UEFA to send a representative to oversee safety matters.Besiktas has put the following announcement on their web site.
Players have been told that they will only be allowed to leave the team hotel for training sessions and the match itself, and fans, who decided to follow the team despite the National Security Council's warnings, were requested to take off shirts identifying them as supporters of the yellow-and-blue.
"We are not interested in politics," Maccabi coach Moti Ivanir told Turkish media upon the team's arrival in Istanbul. "We are here to play soccer. We have been here before and we are expecting everything to be the same. We are not scared of anyone and we are not concerned anything will happen to us." Maccabi players were not allowed to speak to media ahead of the match, but one player said: "It is very strange to be traveling to a match abroad with no one talking about soccer. Clearly we would have preferred that the situation would be more calm, but it shouldn't effect our play on the field."
As you all know, we are to open our Europa League campaign with a home game against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday, September 15 at 20:00. In light of recent political developments, the eyes of UEFA and international football community will be strongly focused on this event. However, despite the critical nature of this match, we see it as a good opportunity to show the world Beşiktaş JK’s traditional hospitality and sportsmanship sprit, which we are known for. We must also not engage in any activity that will send the wrong message.Players on Maccabi Tel Aviv who are currently serving in the IDF have been barred from traveling to the game.
Negative comments circulating in the social media such as enticing you onto the pitch before and during game are being closely monitored by the Istanbul Police Department as it has fully committed to not turn this match into anything other than a simple football event. Besides, as a true supporter of this great club, we expect you to avoid all types of unacceptable behaviour that could lead to disciplinary action by the UEFA. Also remember, politics and sports are two separate entities that should not be mixed. Just concentrate on your own team, help the security forces, who has taken all the necessary measures, and enjoy your game.
For your urgent consideration,
In 2006, a Paris St. Germain soccer fan was shot by a police officer in a brawl following a game that the Parisian team lost to HaPoel Tel Aviv. The officer was trying to protect HaPoel fans who had been set upon by PSG fans.
In 2007, there was violence at a HaPoel Tel Aviv soccer game with Bosnia's Široki Brijeg.
Two weeks later, a diplomatic incident was averted when Turkish television (those were the days) decided not to show Israeli soccer fans singing songs about Mohamed during a trip to a game in Turkey.
The Red Sox play the Yankees in the Bronx next weekend. I'd much rather be there.