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Clubs Association President Ali Koç: “Turkish football has reached a point of conflict and division”

Officials of Super Lig clubs gathered at the Clubs Association meeting. Clubs Association President Ali Koç made statements after the meeting.

Officials of Super Lig clubs gathered at the meeting. Clubs Association made statements after the meeting.

Speaking after the meeting held at the Club Association Foundation in Maslak, İstanbul, attended by , Ali Koç mentioned that they addressed many issues in the meeting with Minister Bak.

Emphasizing that the attack on after the MKE Ankaragücü-Çaykur Rizespor match has wounded the entire country, Koç said, “The country's football brand value has also been damaged internationally. It is absolutely impossible to accept such an incident involving violence. What Halil Umut Meler experienced and what was captured on camera as we watched frame by frame deeply saddened all of us. Naturally, it must have hurt his family the most. We want to extend our heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery to him, his family, the referees officiating the match, and the entire Turkish football. The most important thing is for Halil Umut Meler to recover as soon as possible and to return to the green fields, changing the decision made in that moment of sadness and shock. The problems in the quality of referees are already known to all of us. We sincerely hope that Turkey's best referee will reconsider his decision after this tragic incident and return.” he used expressions.

“Understanding how we got to this point can help find a solution for the future”

Ali Koç, emphasizing that the incidents that occurred do not suit the green fields, continued his words as follows:

“We faced an incident that we never wanted to see. However, let's not forget that this incident has happened many times before in our stadiums. Perhaps not in a match as high-profile as this one, but unfortunately, similar incidents have occurred in many matches over the years. Today is the day to address the accumulated problems with great courage and determination and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent similar incidents from happening again. We need to examine these incidents from a broad perspective and understand how we got to this point. We need to see the truth together. The Turkish Football Federation (TFF), the Central Referee Board (MHK), referees, our clubs, the media, fans, and coaches, everyone needs to thoroughly examine how we got from where to where. In light of the recent events, we all need to think deeply about Turkish football. If we understand how we got to this point, we can find a solution for the future.”

Stating that everyone has a share in the situation and no one should avoid taking responsibility, Koç said, “These problems are not problems that the Turkish Football Federation can solve by distancing itself and shifting the responsibility to others. The blaming, inciting, and even condemning attitude of the TFF, responsible for the management of Turkish football, towards sports media, coaches, former referee commentators, television commentators, the sports clubs that have made great sacrifices, the presidents and executives of these sports clubs, was rejected with great determination in the meeting we just held and is an unacceptable element. I also invite you to look at Mehmet Büyükekşi's statements about referees during his presidency at Gaziantep FK in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons.” continuing his words.

“Life and football have continued as if nothing happened”

Ali Koç, stating that everyone in the football world has a goal, with some teams aiming for championship while others aim to avoid relegation, emphasized that Turkish football is now in a state of conflict, and has even reached a point of division.

Highlighting the importance of not shifting responsibilities to others, Koç said:

“To shift responsibility to others, to ignore one's own responsibilities, to use this incident as an opportunity to solve chronic problems is to take advantage of the situation. Once again, when we look at this picture, we can see how much we have diverged through football competition. Instead of realizing the truth, we are evolving into further division and conflict. It is no longer the time and place for this. Those who do this should not be allowed. Much, much more serious incidents have been covered up in our country until today. Life and football have continued as if nothing happened. It is time to open these books. However, from now on, all stakeholders, especially the TFF, should not let the sides they take go unanswered so that these problems can have a credible and permanent resolution. We must show this determination together.”

Koç also mentioned that they discussed the chronic problems of clubs with Youth and Sports Minister Osman Aşkın Bak and continued as follows:

“There are two important issues. One is fair competition, and the other is our financial problems. So far, the problems of Turkish football have only been heard from the president of the TFF, starting with our esteemed President. We will soon request meetings with our Justice and Interior Ministers. We believe that with mutual understanding and collaboration, we can create a football climate that we can all be proud of. We announce to the public that as clubs, we will initiate the necessary efforts to erase all forms of violence from our fields, put an end to the unjust competitive environment that causes violence, and take all necessary initiatives.”

Addressing a concern raised by all club presidents during the meeting, Koç said, “One of the things that bothers us is the TFF president, who thanked UEFA, FIFA, and England but did not thank the clubs, the Club Association Foundation, the athletes, and Halil Umut Meler for their reflexes after the attack. This actually means a lot. Our presidents requested that this discomfort be brought to the agenda.”

Koç added that only a few clubs are satisfied with the federation and continued:

“There are some clubs that are not satisfied at all, saying, ‘Let's support, but we cannot solve these problems with these staff, this approach, and this management style.' Federations change, the Central Referee Board changes, but there is a place that does not change, the problems continue exactly the same. The federation has assured us that they will show determination in this matter. Let's see what will happen after this incident.”

Responding to a question about TFF President Mehmet Büyükekşi speaking differently about referees during his tenure as the president of Gaziantep FK and during his tenure as TFF President, Koç said, “This situation is a bit contradictory. He has experienced these problems himself. He has made statements about referees 6-7 times. Therefore, when crossing to this side of the line, he probably has not forgotten what he experienced. Looking at how the issues are handled, it is clear that there is a serious lack of expertise and experience.”

“Fenerbahçe team bus was shot at. Even there, matches were played.”

After the MKE Ankaragücü-Çaykur Rizespor match, Koç stated that the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) made the decision to indefinitely postpone the matches without consulting the clubs. He also mentioned that there would be no resumption of the league on December 19 after the decision for indefinite postponement. He said:

“He probably had a different schedule in his mind, but reason prevailed. The Fenerbahçe team bus was shot at. There were 50 people on the bus. It was shot at on the viaduct. The perpetrator is still unknown, and as I have said before, this is a disgrace for the Republic of Turkey. Even there, matches were played. In fact, it was said, ‘If Fenerbahçe doesn't take the field, they will face penalties.' In my opinion, it was a hastily made decision. Nevertheless, we must respect this decision.”

Koç added that today's meeting was not extraordinary but a meeting scheduled 10 days ago. He said, “Today's meeting has nothing to do with what happened on Monday, but such an impression was created. The agenda changed after what happened on Monday. Companies were supposed to make presentations. We were going to discuss e-tickets, broadcast auctions, the distribution of broadcast revenue, and the new league format. After what happened on Monday, we will discuss them in another meeting.”

Referring to the visit of referees to Halil Umut Meler and the subsequent statement, Koç continued his remarks:

“The majority of our presidents were greatly disturbed by the statements made by the referees as they left the hospital, the person chosen as the spokesperson. The situation and performance of the refereeing institution are evident. There is no situation where we will forget or ignore them (the referees) just because an incident we did not want to happen occurred. Let's go one step further; in our meetings with the federation, it was told to us that serious radical steps would be taken, significant progress would be made to minimize the referee problem. The federation repeatedly expressed that they cannot proceed with these referees. Now we will see. Meetings were held in Germany, and it was stated that new systems and appointments would be introduced. The federation, at one point, suspected, ‘Are these referees trying to take advantage of us?' The referee problem persists. A great misfortune occurred. Turkey's best referee experienced this misfortune. No one should experience this.”

President Ali Koç also added that during the meeting with Youth and Sports Minister Osman Aşkın Bak, the problems of the clubs were discussed, and in the coming period, they will meet more frequently with Minister Bak to take steps to address the shortcomings in Turkish football.

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