Passionate, loud and colorful — the 41,000 fans who turned up at a soccer match in Turkey on Tuesday seemed like any others at first glance. But a closer look revealed a different kind of crowd. All the spectators were women and children, thanks to a ban on men and teenage boys after game-related violence.
The 41,000 passionate fans who packed into the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in Istanbul on Tuesday night sang, chanted and cheered on their teams, home side Fenerbahce and visitors Manisaspor, as they battled to a 1-1 draw. The Turkish Süper Lig match featured an own goal and a red card, but nothing too far out of the ordinary — at least on the pitch.
In the stands, however, there was a very noticeable difference — a complete lack of men and teenage boys.
Male fans of both teams aged over 12 were banned from attending the game, with women, girls and younger boys allowed in for free. There were ID checks to ensure the male fans weren’t too old, and supporters were searched before the game by an all-women police squad. Turkish media reported, however, that at least one man, disguised under a headscarf and women’s clothing, made it in to the stadium.
“This really is a historic day,” said Yasemin Mercil, a female member of Fenerbahce’s executive board. “For the first time in the world, only women and children will watch a game.”
More than 41,000 women and children filled Sukru Saracoglu Stadium to watch Fenerbahce play against Manisapor in Turkish League soccer match in Istanbul, Turkey,
The reason for the unusual measures was numerous cases of hooliganism among the (mainly male) fans in the league last season.
Eventually, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) ruled in July that reigning champions Fenerbahce had to play two games behind closed doors — soccer-speak for not allowing any supporters in — as a punishment after their fans invaded the pitch during a pre-season friendly against Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk. But the federation later amended the rules so that women and children could attend instead, in what it called an “historic decision.” (www.abcnews.go.com)