The Turkish Football Federation launches its “broadside” against male supporters
In Iran, women are banned from watching football matches. Jafar Panahi’s “Offside” tells the story of several young women who dress up as boys and try and sneak into a 2006 World Cup match between Iran and Bahrain. It is a heartwarming and often comical tale of Iran’s youth chafing at the heavy handed social mores skewed against women which are laid down by the orthodox clergy.
Yesterday, 41,000 women and children poured into Fenerbahce’s stadium to watch their team take on Manisaspor after the Turkish Football Federation decided to ban males above 12 years of age from attending the match. The decision to do so was in response to a pitch invasion following a pre-season friendly against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Rather than the routine punishment of playing two matches in an empty stadium, the football association employing a rather out of the box solution decided to open up the match to women and children, thereby, ensuring the home team got to play in front of a cheering, and more importantly, well behaved audience. None of the players seem to mind and the TFF could not have asked for a better way to send a message. They have indicated that they would not hesitate to do so again for similar violations. Kudos to them. Women power indeed.
Is this just a novelty or can this approach be adopted elsewhere? There are substantial numbers of women supporters in many football leagues. One would think down in the Argentine Liga where there are numerous breeches of pitch etiquette and violence this could be considered.