“Government resign” slogans rang out on Saturday over the stands of Fenerbahçe, one of Turkey’s three top-tier teams, during a national Super League match with Konyaspor.
The two teams faced each other in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district after a three-week break in Turkey’s top league following 6 February’s major earthquakes that caused great destruction and claimed nearly 45,000 lives in the south and southeast of Turkey.
The fury against the government’s failure to provide disaster relief demonstrated itself before the match began, with some Fenerbahçe fans throwing their hats and scarves onto the pitch, shouting: “Don’t feel the cold Turkey, Fenerbahçe is with you”.
The fans were referring to earthquake victims trying to survive in the freezing cold while the government has still not supplied sufficient tents or containers for them to use as shelter.
The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan this week called those complaining about the lack of sufficient humanitarian aid as “depraved, rascals, despicable”.
Tens of thousands of Fenerbahçe fans repeatedly called the government and President Erdoğan to resign during Saturday’s match.
“Lies, lies, lies, a pack of lies! It’s been 20 years, so now resign,” they roared.
Not a single Turkish official has resigned yet despite the growing anger from the public against the government and increasing allegations of negligence and corruption which surround Turkey’s construction sector, that has come to centre-stage as a result of the chilling figure of 160,000 buildings having collapsed or been severely damaged after the tremors.
Since 2013, football matches in Turkey have become arenas for the public to show their anger against the government, as games are broadcast live on television, preventing censorship of the slogans of the fans.
The protests of Fenerbahçe’s fans during the match were quickly responded to by resentful comments from government supporters.
The Islamist Yeni Akit newspaper used the headline “Insolent slogans from Fenerbahçe’s White Turks! A strange evening in Kadıköy”, using the term common among government supporters to define the secularist opposition in Turkey.
Following Fenerbahçe’s 4-0 victory against Konyaspor, the chairman of the football club Ali Koç also spoke about the earthquake, expressing his wish that Turkey will learn lessons from the devastating disaster this time.
Koç drew attention to a charity campaign to be led by the country’s football community on 1 March to raise funds for shelter for earthquake survivors.