DECISION: Diyarbakırspor Chairman Çetin Sümer (C) speaks at a press conference in the southeastern city. AA photo
Diyarbakırspor backed down from its decision to withdraw from the Turkcell Super League and will play Sunday’s game against Galatasaray, the club chairman announced on Thursday.
Chairman Çetin Sümer held a press conference on Thursday with the club’s board members and several social leaders from the southeastern city.
Last Sunday Sümer announced the club’s withdrawal from the top flight, questioning decisions by referee Süleyman Abay. It was the second time that Sümer mentioned withdrawal after a game in Bursa where Diyarbakırspor players and fans were met by offensive chanting by Bursaspor fans.
Many ultra-nationalists in Turkey consider Diyarbakırspor, from the biggest city in southeastern Turkey, to represent the Kurdish population and, by extension, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The team and its supporters have on many occasions become targets of anti-Kurdish banners and chants.
“We feel that the Football Federation did not punish the sides in a just way after the Bursa game. We thought that we were being victimized through events on and off the pitch in the last two games because of our reaction to those events,” said Sümer on Thursday. “That was why we announced we would not play the game against Galatasaray in the first place.”
Sümer said following his outburst, the football and political scene started to debate on the subject.
“Many people feel that our reaction was just, but withdrawing from matches would be useless,” said Sümer. “Ministers, our governor, the mayor and heads of NGOs all think that the team should play its games and continue to challenge others. What we have to do is respect that thought.”
The club chairman said the Turkish Football Federation should punish the clubs for racism more strictly.
“We are expecting the Federation to act against racist, negative and insulting chants in the games,” said Sümer, adding that the club will welcome its opponents to Diyarbakır in the best way possible.
The Diyarbakır Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Galip Ensarioğlu spoke at the press conference and hailed the decision.
“In a time when the country is passing through a fragile situation, discriminative chants harm our unity,” said Ensarioğlu. “But we still believe that [withdrawing from the league] would not be good and the club board did not reject that idea.”