This weekend marks the second annual installment of (one of) the Istanbul Derby games. In Istanbul there are three teams: Galatasaray, Fenerbahce (Fen-air-bah-che), and Besiktas (Be-sheikh-tash). Generally, Fenerbahce represents the Asian side, Besiktas hails from the neighbor for which it is named (Istanbul’s most populous), and Galatasaray is for the rest (although they are often associated with the genteel class).
Although the Galatasaray-Fenerbahce rivalry is considered the most bitter in Turkey, and one of the most bitter in the world, any sort of intercity match is met with fandom that borders and often crosses into mania.
Personally, I am torn between allegiances to Galatasaray and Besiktas. All of the friends that I made in Istanbul were split between one of these two, and while Galatasaray enjoys much more historic and contemporary success, Besiktas was my neighborhood team, and the cafes and restaurants were thrilling on game night. But Galatasaray also has the advantage of being the team that I had the pleasure of seeing in person.
Galatasaray's star player Didier Drogba, who scored when I went to watch him and celebrated directly in front of us.
However, my main motivation for writing this post is to use the opportunity to share some of Istanbul’s passion and character. The last time Galatasaray played Besiktas was at the Besiktas home stadium. In the 87th minute Galatasaray was leading 2-0. Since the Besiktas fans couldn’t stand the prospect of an embarrassing shutout defeat at home to Galatasaray, they stormed the field and rioted. The police did their best to intervene, but in Istanbul, the relationship between rabid supporters with a mob mentality and the police is rocky at best. I woke up the next morning to newspaper headlines with these images.
These pictures come from the Daily Mail.
Just another day in Istanbul.
Until Next Time,