Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), on Tuesday saluted supporters of the country’s northwestern football club Bursaspor, who organised a racist attack against Amedspor, a football club from the Kurdish-majority southeastern province of Diyarbakır (Amed).
Bahçeli, the ally of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also referred to the football club as “Diyarbakırspor”, instead of Amedspor, ignoring a Kurdish name change agreed during peace negotiations between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2014, negotiations that collapsed a year later.
While speaking to his parliamentary group, Bahçeli criticised “the provocative visuals waved from the stands” during the Sunday match between the two teams, saying that “the outbursts were completely against the morality and nature of sports.”
During the game, Bursaspor fans held up posters symbolising abductions and subsequent extrajudicial killings that took place in Turkey during the 1990s, at the height of the Turkish-Kurdish conflict.
“In our opinion, there is no such place as Amed and Amedspor will also not be mentioned. I greet the supporters of Bursaspor from here, I congratulate them for their national stance,” Bahçeli said, blaming separatists for inciting the stands, although there is no evidence of this.
The politician described Turkish sports as an oasis of friendship and brotherhood, adding that claims about the Turkish Football Federation’s weakness in preventing the events should be considered.
Bahçeli also targeted protests in stadiums last week during which Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş supporters demanded the resignation of the government over incompetent disaster relief response that followed the twin earthquakes that hit the country’s south on 6 February.
The politician called such slogans as “a preliminary preparation for a dark plan against Turkey”.
“Those who provoke the social opposition should never forget that they will not prevent hoisting with their own petard. Turkey was not founded in stadiums, it will not be destroyed at the hands of 3-5 bandits. Everybody should pull themselves together,” the far-right leader said.
Bahçeli last week resigned from Beşiktaş football club, following the fans’ protests against the government during a match in Turkey’s Premier League.