Troops keep peace at football 'war'

THE Champions League clash between the Italian and Turkish teams of Juventus and Galatasaray passed without the feared security breaches last night. Some 22,000 troops and police were drafted in for the game in Istanbul's Ali Sami Yen stadium which ended in a tense 1-1 draw.

Turkey has been in the grip of violent anti-Italian hysteria since Rome refused to hand over the Kurdish guerrilla Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), who is regarded by most Turks as a terrorist responsible for the death of at least 30,000 people.

Italian-made goods have been burnt in the streets and there has been an unofficial boycott of trade with Italy. "This isn't football; it's war," said Serdar Gul, an Istanbul taxi-driver. It was a sentiment echoed all over the city.

The match was postponed for a week because of Juventus's fears for their safety in the fevered atmosphere.

The Ali Sami Yen stadium has a reputation in normal times as an intimidating cauldron where visiting teams are greeted with banners announcing "Welcome to Hell". Galatasaray fans at Istanbul airport yesterday threw white lilies before the Juventus bus - a hospitable gesture - but the Italian players looked out apprehensively.

Then Turin team risked the wrath of Uefa (the European football association) by refusing to travel to Istanbul for the requisite overnight stay, and arrived only hours before the match. They boarded their charter flight at Turin airport with long faces, despite a pep-talk from the coach, Marcello Lippi, urging them to put their worries behind them and concentrate on the game.

"One thing is for certain," Lippi said. "We're not going to end up like the turkey on Thanksgiving Day. I don't know whether we will be able to forget all that is going on around us but we will try to do the right thing".

The Italian Football Federation president, Luciano Nizzola, said that he was "very impressed" with the security precautions Turkey had taken.

"We weren't expecting such a warm reception," he said from the team's hotel on the Bosphorus. The managers of the Turin club have nevertheless supported the players' wish to remain in Turkey for as short a time as possible, just 13 hours, even though this means a hefty fine. The Juventus chairman, Vittorio Chiusano, said he would be pleased if the match helped ease the tension between Rome and Ankara. "If in the past there had been ping-pong diplomacy, now there will be football diplomacy," he said optimistically.

Galatasaray said it was expecting some Italian fans to attend the game. "We've taken every precaution, but there won't be a problem. Football isn't about politics," a spokesman said. At least one Turkish fan agreed. "There's no chance of any problems; the Turkish people are brothers of sport. And anyway, it's impossible with this level of security," Aydin Burdek said.

The match coincided with the appointment of Bulent Ecevit as Turkey's new Prime Minister after his predecessor fell in a corruption scandal. Mr Ecevit is likely to maintain Turkey's tough stance over Mr Ocalan.

As the Juventus squad arrived in Turkey the Italian parliament was about to begin a debate on the Ocalan case. Italy's Foreign Minister, Lamberto Dini, has confirmed that he would meet his Turkish counterpart, Ismail Cem, next Tuesday during a Nato ministerial session in Brussels.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee