new frontiers (issue 6)

Hold The Back Page

I tuned into "6.06" a few weeks ago and was staggered to hear virtually every caller recounting grim experiences with Manchester United in Galatasaray. They all had similar stories to tell. Dragged out of the beds and thrown into prison. Some had possessions stolen.

One fan returned to his hotel, fellow fans had all gone. So had some of his possessions. He told the hotel, they told him to report it to the police. He did. They locked him up.

Police told fans at the next hotel to spend the day of the match in the hotel. Feelings were running high in the city. The police said they would organise coaches to take them to the game. The coaches duly arrived, the fans got on and got a free ride to the local nick. A 71 year old man was one of the people detained. So was a handicapped lady in her fifties.

United fans have pictures of Turks, including police, attacking the hotel with stones.

It almost seemed that more fans had missed seeing the game than had actually seen it. On one plane returning home, only 8 fans out of 209 had actually seen the game.

A friend of my went to the game. He follows United all over the place. Travelling independent of any organised tours, he found many of the Kurdish community to be very friendly. However, on arriving at the ground, they asked a policeman where their seats were. The officer walked them round the ground to the gate. The official on the gate refused to let them in. "No, closed", they were told. They got a kicking on their shins for the troubles. Eventually, 10 minutes from the end of the game, they managed to get into the ground, among the Turkish fans. Inside, they were subject to severe racial abuse and threats of violence.

David Mellor deserves a big word of thanks for his part in bringing the situation to everyone's attention. Most of the media ignored the matter, or blamed United thugs for starting trouble.

The mass incarceration of fans seems to be becoming an accepted practice. It has happened to Welsh fans in Belgium and English fans in Holland this year.

Stand up for your rights. Join the Football Supporters Association. Only 6. Details from PO Box 11, Liverpool, L26 1XP.

2005 Footnote: It sounded good in 1993, not so good today. I believe it was one of the first instances of mal treatment of fans in Turkey to receive widespread publicity. Also, a plug for the FSA was always a good idea.

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