Beşiktaş FC refuse to play in cup, defying Turkish federation

Beşiktaş, one of Istanbul and Turkey’s biggest football clubs, has made the bold decision to defy a federation ruling that would have them resume a cup match against arch-rivals Fenerbahçe that was called off after an object flung from the stands struck Beşiktaş manager Şenol Güneş in his head.

The referee was forced to abandon the Ziraat Turkish Cup semi-final second-leg match at Fenerbahçe’s Şükrü Saracoğlu stadium on Apr. 19 after chaotic incidents on and off the pitch culminated in Güneş being struck in the head by a projectile hurled by a Fenerbahçe fan in the 57th minute.

The match, like many Istanbul derbies, had been marked by rough play, which in this case resulted in Beşiktaş defender Pepe being sent off. Meanwhile, the home fans aimed an unending torrent of hurled missiles at the Beşiktaş bench.

The Turkish Football Federation met on Wednesday, deciding that the match would be continued from the 57th minute on May 3.

However, Beşiktaş and many other observers were expecting the federation to follow precedent and award the club a 3-0 victory, which would have taken the team to the cup final.

The ruling had “no legal basis” and ignored verbal abuse and other bad behaviour from Fenerbahçe players and fans, said Beşiktaş president Fikret Orman during an extraordinary meeting of the club’s board.

The club later released a statement announcing that it would boycott the match in protest at the ruling.

“For 115 years we have always been on the pitch, win, lose or draw. So as not to accept becoming a loser at the (federation’s) desk, we will not take the field on Thursday, May 3, 2018,” said the statement.

“We strongly believe that this decision is the most dignified way to make the voices of the Beşiktaş supporters heard,” it said.

Fans on social media rallied around their club and made their own expressions of a defiant spirit that has become one of the club’s trademarks.

“We will not be defeated,” said the club’s most famous fan group, Çarşı, on Twitter. “We will not bend our knee to thieves!”

However, the decision to boycott the match may have serious repercussions for the club, that go beyond the automatic loss of the match in question.

According to federation rules, the club could be disqualified from this season’s cup competition and forbidden to play in next year’s.

It could also lose the right to a say in the distribution of earnings from the cup competition.
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