Germany and Turkey are two countries that have an oddly intimate relationship despite their very different backgrounds. During World War One the ailing Ottoman Empire chose to side with the Central powers and the German Reich. In the 1960s the history of these two countries again merged when Gastarbeiter—foreign “guest workers”—migrated en masse to Germany in order to work low skilled jobs in the industrial sector and make up for the lack of labor following the division of Germany. Although these workers came from a variety of countries including Italy, Greece, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yugoslavia the majority came from Turkey. To this day there are more than four million people of Turkish descent living in Germany, a topic so multi-faceted that it has to be left for another article.
This article is about another link between these two countries—that of football and ideology. Every country in the world, no matter how big or small, how rich or poor, undoubtedly shares various qualities: They all have political squabbles—some bigger than others, they all play football—some more successfully than others, and their citizens also follow the news and—as human beings—have their own views on right and wrong and the perceived injustices going on in the world around them. At a time that blood is being shed in the name of varying views of right and wrong from Missouri to Ukraine and on to the Levant it is refreshing to see humans come together; this weekend Bayern Munich’s fans showed that sentiment in the stands during a match against Bayer Leverkusen at the Allianz Arena.
Image Courtesy of: http://www.fanatik.com.tr/2014/12/06/bayern-munih-taraftarindan-carsiya-turkce-destek-402402
The banner unfurled by Bayern Munich fans reads “Adaletsizlik yaparsan Çarşına, tüm Ultralar geçer karşına”—“If you do injustice to your Çarşı, all the Ultras will stand against you”. This refers to the upcoming December 16 trial against the members of Beşiktaş’s fan group Çarşı who are accused of attempting to bring down the government due to their role in the Gezi protests of June 2013. But this is not the first time that German football teams have supported Çarşı, it has become a recurring theme in recent months. Immediately after the announcement of the aforementioned legal case during a match between Borussia Dortmund and Freiburg on September 13, Dortmund fans unleashed a three level banner reading:
“Çarşı ultras, yolunuz için savaşın”
“Asla pes etmeyin!”
“Ultras için özgürlük, Türkiye de dahil!”
“Çarşı Ultras, fight for your path”
“Never give up!”
“Freedom for Ultras, including in Turkey!”
Image Courtesy Of: http://www.posta.com.tr/spor/HaberDetay/Carsi-ya-Almanya-dan-dev-destek-.htm?ArticleID=244857
On May 18 2014, during the German Cup Final, Bayern Munich fans unfurled two banners reading:
“Çarşı için adalet, Ultralar omuz omuza!”
“Her yer Taksim, her yer direniş”
“Justice for Çarşı, Ultras shoulder to shoulder!”
“Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance”
Image Courtesy Of: http://spor.internethaber.com/spor/dunyadan-futbol/bayern-munih-taraftarindan-carsiya-destek-192570.html#
Despite all the discussions surrounding Turkey and its identity (is it European or Asian, Western or Eastern) in football terms it seems that Turkey has its place squarely in Europe. These recent displays of support from Germany show that as the world globalizes local political and ideological struggles—those stemming from football fans defending a park, for instance—can be elevated into international events. Perhaps that is one reason that the Turkish government has pushed so fiercely for the Passolig Card system, keeping fans from the stadium and thereby silencing voices that clearly resonate far beyond the stands of Turkey’s stadiums.