As I awake this Easter Holiday and reflect on Sky News and the day’s and previous day’s events, I am tempted to recite those famous lyrics of The Clash band ‘Should I stay or should I go now?’. Not afraid of being controversial, I put forward a viewpoint that might suggest some undertones and causes of unacceptable behaviour by sporting fans, that may have roots in the turmoil in the indigenous countries. On this occasion, I’m advocating a view of ‘Broken Britain’ and ‘Broken Turkey’.
Well respected sports journalists this week recalled events in Spain surrounding Leicester City’s supporters invasion of Madrid in the Champions League. David Conn reported: “Leicester fans in a square in Madrid chanting ‘You Spanish bastards. Gibraltar is ours”. Oliver Holt: “Last night – Dortmund fans sharing their homes with Monaco fans shouting ‘Gibraltar is ours’. Makes you despair”. The Gibraltar subject being one of a newsworthy matter of potential #Brexit conflict in negotiations now that article 50 has been evoked.
It’s not that freedom of speech should be curtailed vis-a-vis Turkey’s President Recep Tayip Erdogan. However, with the ‘Foxes” incident, I advocate this mirrors a growing trend among English fans to aggression, racism, hooliganism and isolation. Leicester merely mimics a Country-wide trend, witnessed personally by me following the English national Team.
I still recite the demographics and metrics of the stereotypical ‘Brexiteers’ as a contract to the ‘Remainers’. Of course, one should be wary of tarring all with that same brush, but it has been exposed that poverty, disillusionment and ignorance were common traits of that, slightly more than half of the Country, that voted for us to leave Europe. I feel the same disadvantaged populous are those that are found among these hooligans. I also suggest that this is not just a few, but the way an increasing portion of the British population are moving. The future can only mean more turmoil if such idiotic beliefs and unacceptable behaviour are likely to grow. It this a ‘time bomb’ waiting to explode? Is this the Country that we want future generations to be brought up in?
Last night, the fans of Besiktas rioted in France. The current documentaries by Simon Reeve on Turkey offers an unbiased reporting of the characteristics and frailty in both economic, cultural and political terms. Here there is a clear hypothesis that by the ruling party allowing more immigration and offering relatively small ‘handouts’ to the poorer segment of society then what is happening is tantamount to ‘buying votes’ to further the aims and securing the power of that same AK Parti. The referendum is upon us which could give the biggest boost to that political party and widen the gap between Islamists and the traditional supporters of modern Turkey for which Ataturk was catalyst.
Okay – maybe a tenuous link, but I would promote one theory that hooliganism in football with Turkish fan involvement, may also have roots in the unrest from their homeland (By the way, I have also seen French supporters that are not blameless and witnessing firsthand where such as socio-disadvantage, ethnicity and social-exclusion may have inflamed situations).
In a short blog post, one should be wary of generalisations. Yest, I feel there could be factors much wider than traditional football supporting motivations that are now driving behaviour. Where, I live bus loads of Turks, many of which I know, have travelled to London for advance voting to try and prevent increased influence to Erdogan. In this same area, the majority voted Remain in the EU Referendum. So whilst some comfort in being surrounded by like-minded people, I do worry about the future in both of these two great countries and for the first time actually contemplate ‘Go’ in search of the best future for my family.
Adrian Stores is CEO at ACROBAT | FCSM. It concentrates on marketing, sponsorship and fundraising – mainly in UK and Turkey. More information: http://www.acrobatfcsm.com