Turkish Super Cup final in Riyadh postponed over Ataturk T-shirts

Clubs say delay a result of 'some problems' in event's organisation

Fans wait for the Super Cup match between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce at Al Awal Park in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Friday before its postponement. AP
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The Turkish Super Cup final between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh on Friday was postponed because of what the clubs described as “some problems” with the event's organisation.

Saudi state TV quoted a statement from organiser the Riyadh Season as saying the final was cancelled because the teams did not follow match regulations.

Turkish media said the two Istanbul teams reportedly wanted to wear T-shirts featuring the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, during the warm-up of the game, a request rejected by Saudi officials.

The clubs refused to play in the game at the Al Awal Park stadium at King Saud University as a result, the report said.

“We were looking forward to holding the match on time in accordance with the international soccer rules and regulations that require the sport to be presented without any slogans outside its scope, especially since this was discussed with the Turkish (Football) Federation in the framework of the preparatory meetings for the match,” Riyadh Season said.

“Despite this agreement, it was unfortunate that the two teams did not adhere to what had been agreed upon, which led to the match not being held,” it added.

The scheduled final coincides with the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the secular Turkish Republic. There was no immediate comment from Saudi officials.

“The 2023 Super Cup … has been postponed to a later date as a result of a joint decision we made with our clubs, due to some problems in its organisation,” the two teams and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) said on X.

It was not clear where or when the final would be staged. The joint statement thanked Saudi Arabia's football federation and authorities for efforts they made to organise the event.

There had also been media reports that Turkey's national anthem and flag would not be allowed at the final but the TFF earlier said they would feature.

The incident came amid a recent warming of relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia in July amid efforts to repair ties that were ruptured after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.

The cancellation of the final added to what has been a controversy filled month for Turkish soccer.

The president of top-tier club Ankaragucu, Faruk Koca, was arrested on December 12 for punching a referee in the face at the end of a match. The TFF imposed a permanent ban on Koca and also sanctioned Ankaragucu.

The Turkish league was temporarily suspended due to the violence and when it resumed Istanbulspor walked off the pitch in protest at a refereeing decision in a Super Lig game against Trabzonspor. The game was then abandoned.

Updated: December 30, 2023, 7:56 AM