This is the Beşiktaş Inönü Stadium (capacity 32,145), a stadium Pele reportedly called “the best place in the world to watch a game”. One cant fault him for his praise–where else can one watch a European football game while enjoying a view of the Bosphorus and Asia at the same time? The Inönü Stadium is truly a unique spot, both in footballing and historical terms. Currently it is closed, part of an ambitious project to build a new stadium in the same location–a ten minute walk from Taksim Square and the heart of modern Istanbul.
These pictures were taken from a tense Europa League encounter between Beşiktaş and Maccabi Tel Aviv back in 2011. The match was played in the shadows of a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey following the Mavi Marmara incident, when Israeli soldiers shot and killed Turkish activists aiming to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip. As with many political crises, the tension spread to the football pitch. There were a large amount of police and private security guards on hand, ensuring that no violence took place. In the end they were successful in preventing extra-curriculars, and the fact that only ten Israeli fans made the trip to see their side go down 5-1 also helped in keeping tensions low in my opinion. Part of me felt like Maccabi didn’t really go all out on the field so as not to stoke the fires, as Maccabi were not as poor as the scoreline suggested. As for Besiktas, the (in)famous Çarşı fan group did their team proud, chanting nationalist slogans of “Türkiye! Türkiye! Türkiye!” and “Şehitler Ölmez Vatan Bölünmez” (The Martyrs will never die, the country will never be divided). All in all, it was a good european win for Beşiktaş at the time. As for now, we can all hope that the new Inönü will do the old one justice, and that Çarşı carry on the activism born in Gezi park by continuing to stand up for what they believe in.
The views from the cheap seats (!)
Luckily, Private Security didn’t have much to do