Armenia And Turkey: More Politics Than Football

15:33 13.10.09

Though Armenian and Turkish football officials had reached a
preliminary agreement that no fans of the host team would be present
at the Armenia-Turkey matches, during the return match and amidst
Turkish fans’ shouts, it will be possible to distinguish the voices
of the Armenian team’s supporters.

Present at the match will be a number of journalists, politicians,
and sociologists who have arrived to Bursa from Armenia to follow the
sporting dispute turned "Football Diplomacy." Bursa, Turkey’s fourth
largest city and the capital of the region with the same name, with
a population of 2 million, welcomed’s correspondents with
strong bursts of winds; if we believe meteorologists, the winds will
continue on the day of the match too.

In the city, however, one doesn’t really feel the full swing of the
pre-football match. But local football fans are convinced that if
the authorities are not extremely attentive, the stadium that has a
capacity of 20,000 will be filled easily.

A 40-year-old shop vendor named Akif doesn’t conceal his
dissatisfaction at all that Turkish and Armenian presidents will be
present at the match. "I have not even missed a single match of the
local Bursaspor team, but today, when the country’s national team is
in our city, I don’t want to see how political figures will hinder
the football players’ showing their game," said Akif, sharing his
opinion with correspondents.

Despite no longer in the running for the 2010 World Cup, the Turkish
team gathers a large number of fans from Bursa, who, unlike Istanbul’s
population, don’t have many opportunites to watch a match by this
much-loved team. Here, even with great enthusiasm, they welcome the
team’s coach Fatih Terim, for whom this will be the last match in
his post.

Gyunel, a 30-year-old manager, says he regards the political
component of the match with understanding: "I have never understood
the radical fans. If football countries become friends, what’s so bad
about that? And that in the case when our team no longer qualifies
for the World Championship."