Sporting racism spotlight falls on Turkey

Sporting racism spotlight falls on Turkey
Galatasaray’s Senegalese striker Mbaye Diagne. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 11 December 2020

Sporting racism spotlight falls on Turkey

Sporting racism spotlight falls on Turkey
  • Football commentator Emre Bol told pro-government channel A TV that Galatasaray’s Senegalese star Mbaye Diagne “was eating crocodile in Senegal, then came here and became a footballer”
  • The football team of Kurdish-majority Diyarbakir city has increasingly become the focus of nationalist hostility, with the club accused of being linked to the outlawed PKK

ANKARA: Controversy surrounding an official’s alleged racism during a Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir has not only fueled the simmering row between Ankara and Paris but also stirred debate in Turkey about the country’s own sporting culture.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has close ties with the owners of the Basaksehir club, said after the match: “This incident is the result of recent racist discourse in France. France has regrettably become a hotspot for racism.”

During the game on Tuesday, Basaksehir’s assistant coach, Pierre Webo, was shown a red card for protesting against a refereeing decision. A Romanian fourth official then allegedly pointed to the Cameroonian and used a racist description.

The match was suspended in the 13th minute after both teams left the pitch and was replayed the following day.

European football’s governing body UEFA is expected to launch an investigation into incident.

“Racism, and discrimination in all its forms, has no place in football,” UEFA said in a statement.

The MHP, Turkey’s ultra-nationalist party and a coalition partner of the ruling government, tweeted “No to Racism” photos in protest at the incident.

However, for many Turks, ethnic tensions and racism in sports remain a source of concern.

Mert Yasar, a lawyer specializing in sports law, said racist incidents involving managers, competitors and fans have been a familiar problem over the years, with many of those responsible enjoying complete impunity since federations and prosecutors fail to hand down fines or launch investigations.

“Our record in this area is getting worse,” he told Arab News.

The football team of Kurdish-majority Diyarbakir city has increasingly become the focus of nationalist hostility, with the club accused of being linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Players are exposed to almost daily harassment by rival fans, especially after the club’s rebranding as Amedspor in 2014, for using the Kurdish name for Diyarbakir.

Turkish nationalists generally shout “Kurds out; this is Turkey, not Kurdistan,” while the team’s Kurdish supporters are occasionally banned from attending matches.

In 2014, Deniz Naki, an Amedspor player with a Kurdish background, was the target of a racist attack in Ankara. Two years later, he was banned for 12 games over a Facebook post described as “ideological propaganda.”

Two years later, Amedspor executives were assaulted after attending a match in the capital.

The same year, Amedspor players carried a giant banner on to the pitch calling for an “end to violence in the region that kills children who should instead attend the matches.” The players were accused of “terror propaganda.”

Last week, football commentator Emre Bol told pro-government channel A TV that Galatasaray’s Senegalese star Mbaye Diagne “was eating crocodile in Senegal, then came here and became a footballer.” Galatasaray immediately took legal action against Bol.

In 1999, a UK-born striker, Kevin Campbell, left Trabzonspor club after its chairman, Mehmet Ali Yilmaz, called him a “cannibal.”

Campbell said that it was the “biggest insult” he had ever received.

“No apology can heal my injury,” he said after Yilmaz told Turkish journalists: “We bought a cannibal who calls himself a striker.”

Fans waving bananas during matches routinely make headlines, with no stern warnings or sanctions in return.

Racism is sometimes rewarded in sports.

Riza Kayaalp, a well-known Turkish wrestler, made headlines for racist remarks against Armenians and Greeks in August 2013 following the anti-government Gezi Park protests.

The Olympic medalist was suspended for six months by a FILA judge, but the decision was later overturned. Kayaalp was recently appointed undersecretary in the Youth and Sports Ministry.

According to Mert Yasar, Turkey’s campaign against racism is a state responsibility.

“All international conventions and constitutions oblige Turkey to initiate anti-discriminatory measures in sport. The sports ministry as well as the sporting federations and committees should combat the racist attacks in this area,” he said.

“Several international federations have the right to halt the membership of members that don’t fight racism effectively or which fail to conduct thorough investigations. They can even ban participation of these Turkish federations in international events if racism still enjoys impunity.”


Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project adds Gartner in advisory role

Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project adds Gartner in advisory role
Updated 2 min 14 sec ago

Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project adds Gartner in advisory role

Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project adds Gartner in advisory role
  • US-based research firm signs contract with Red Sea Development Company

LONDON: The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) signed a contract with Gartner on Wednesday to provide consulting services on technology procurement for the Red Sea Project.
The leading US-based research and advisory firm will assist TRSDC in sourcing technology partners through three main specializations: smart destination development, information technology, and cybersecurity.
The Red Sea Project is a regenerative tourism destination along Saudi Arabia’s west coast, and one of three giga-projects announced by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in July 2017.
Gartner will also provide ideas and advice on licensing, technology customization, service scoping and pricing.
“Technical innovation underpins every aspect of our vision for the Red Sea Project,” said John Pagano, the CEO of TRSDC.
“Everything from the seamless, personalized service guests will experience when they arrive at our airport, to the 24/7 smart monitoring of the environment. Every element will be world-class.” 
He said Gartner’s specialists are at the forefront of emerging trends and with their expert counsel, “we can transform travel through technology.”
The advisory firm will provide insight to help TRSDC create a special experience for guests, the company said.
“Work is already underway to develop an extensive smart destination platform,” TRSDC said. “It will monitor, simulate, and forecast the environmental impact of the destination’s operations, in keeping with TRSDC’s commitment to protect and enhance the environment.”
The first phase of the project includes 16 hotels providing 3,000 rooms across five islands and two resorts on the mainland. Retail, entertainment and other commercial facilities will also be included in the first phase.
The Red Sea project, scheduled to be completed in 2030, will ultimately feature 50 hotels with 8,000 hotel rooms and around 1,300 housing units distributed over 22 islands. A yacht marina, entertainment centers, an international airport, along with public and logistical facilities will be included.


Saudi crown prince undergoes successful appendicitis surgery

Saudi crown prince undergoes successful appendicitis surgery
Updated 2 min 55 sec ago

Saudi crown prince undergoes successful appendicitis surgery

Saudi crown prince undergoes successful appendicitis surgery

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman underwent a successful surgical procedure on Wednesday morning to treat appendicitis at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The crown prince left the hospital later on Wednesday. 


Syrian war being forgotten in UK as poll shows growing apathy

The results of a YouGov survey, released on Wednesday, showed only a little more than half (58 percent) of British people were aware the war in Syria was still going on. (Reuters/File Photo)
The results of a YouGov survey, released on Wednesday, showed only a little more than half (58 percent) of British people were aware the war in Syria was still going on. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 54 min 7 sec ago

Syrian war being forgotten in UK as poll shows growing apathy

The results of a YouGov survey, released on Wednesday, showed only a little more than half (58 percent) of British people were aware the war in Syria was still going on. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Brits have ‘turned off their minds’ to what is happening in Syria amid increasingly scarce media coverage

LONDON: The civil war in Syria is being forgotten by the British people as apathy toward the decade-long conflict grows, according to a UK-based charity.

The results of a YouGov survey, released on Wednesday, showed only a little more than half (58 percent) of those polled were aware the war was still going on. A spokesman for Syria Relief said Britons have “turned off their minds” to what is happening in the country.

The poll, which marks the upcoming 10th anniversary of the start of the conflict, found 38 percent of 1,753 people questioned in the UK were not sure of the current status of the war, while four percent believed it had ended.

Public awareness of the conflict was higher in August 2019, when a survey found that 77 percent people knew about the conflict, according to Syria Relief.

“I believe that after 10 years the UK has become fatigued about the Syrian crisis because of its protracted nature,” Charles Lawley, head of communications and advocacy at Syria Relief, told Arab News. “They are accepting that this is a place where tragedies happen on a daily basis, so they turn their minds off to it — and this is a great tragedy.

“I think it is a symptom of British society becoming less concerned about issues beyond our own borders and, to be frank, it is almost as if the suffering of Syrians is boring them.”

This year also marks 10 years since the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad targeted 10 schools and a hospital in attacks that claimed the lives of more than 20 people, more than half of them children, something that would not be tolerated in the UK, Lawley said.

“If this would have happened in Britain it would have been treated akin to our 9/11: a national tragedy that would be remembered for generations,” he said. “Yet because it happened in Syria, no one knows about it.

“We wouldn’t tolerate children being bombed as they sit in the classrooms of British schools so why on earth do we tolerate it in Syria or anywhere else in the world?”

Extensive media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit negotiations has meant that UK national news updates on the Syrian conflict have been increasingly rare in the past few years, which makes the efforts of charities to help the victims of the conflict much harder, Lawley said.

“It is so difficult for organizations like Syria Relief to get the UK or the world to care about suffering and death in Syria,” he said. “When we just allow Syria to be a place where bombs can be dropped on schools or hospitals, we devalue the lives of Syrians.

“But, tragically, our apathy to the plight of the Syrian people compounds their suffering as there is no pressure on governments to act to stop warring parties in the conflict from committing crimes against humanity.

“Ultimately, the British people need to remember that Syrians are people too. Their lives are just as valuable as any human life; the only different between them and (us) is where they were born. They didn’t ask for this.”

While the UK has pledged billions of pounds in aid for Syria since 2012, politicians and the media in the UK need to do more to shine a light on the conflict and the suffering of ordinary Syrians, Lawley said, especially after the government’s recent announcement of cuts to the aid budget.

“The UK government is the third-biggest donor to the Syrian humanitarian aid response and should be proud about the enormous amount of good it is doing to help the people impacted by the conflict,” he said.

“However, with the recent announcement of the government about plans to cut the aid budget, this is making us at Syria Relief, and many of our colleagues in the (nongovernmental organization) community very concerned about what this could mean to the Syrian people — many of whom are some of the most vulnerable people on the globe.

“I think the government should be shouting from the rooftops about the incredible things that the UK aid budget has achieved. If it had, I think there would have been more opposition from the public about the announcement to cut the budget.

“Being a global leader in helping the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people should be worn as a badge of national pride, not treated like a dirty little secret.”

The war in Syria began in 2011 amid pro-democracy protests in Deraa. Tensions escalated after the Assad regime crushed dissenters who staged a “day of rage” on March 15, which ultimately led to more people flooding city streets demanding the president step down.


US patience with Iran on nuclear deal ‘not unlimited’: State Department

US patience with Iran on nuclear deal ‘not unlimited’: State Department
Updated 15 min 18 sec ago

US patience with Iran on nuclear deal ‘not unlimited’: State Department

US patience with Iran on nuclear deal ‘not unlimited’: State Department

WASHINGTON: The United States' patience with Iran on returning to discussions over the 2015 nuclear deal is "not unlimited," State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Wednesday.
"Our patience is not unlimited, but we do believe, and the president has been clear on this, ... that the most effective way to ensure Iran could never acquire a nuclear weapon was through diplomacy," Price said. 


Jordan reimposes Friday curfew as virus surges

Jordan reimposes Friday curfew as virus surges
Updated 24 February 2021

Jordan reimposes Friday curfew as virus surges

Jordan reimposes Friday curfew as virus surges
  • An existing nightly curfew will begin at 10 p.m. instead of midnight
  • From Sunday a maximum of 30 percent of public-sector employees will be allowed at their workplace

AMMAN: Jordan has reimposed an all-day curfew on Fridays to stem the spread of coronavirus as cases rise, officials said Wednesday.
“Starting this week, the government is imposing a curfew throughout the kingdom from 10 p.m. (2000 GMT) Thursdays until 6 am Saturdays,” Information Minister Ali Al-Ayed said in a statement.
Walking to a mosque for Friday prayers, however, is permitted, he said.
An existing nightly curfew will begin at 10 p.m. instead of midnight, while from Sunday a maximum of 30 percent of public-sector employees will be allowed at their workplace.
The toughening of Covid-19 restrictions returns Jordan to rules imposed in March last year, and which were only eased last month.
“The kingdom has witnessed a rapid spread of Covid in recent weeks. This is why swift and strict measures are needed,” Health Minister Nazir Obeidat said.
Jordan, which began vaccinations last month, has officially recorded more than 376,000 novel coronavirus cases and over 4,600 deaths out of a population of 10.5 million people.