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"Normal" Turkish fans hold no Swiss grudge

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A Turkish journalist predicts minimal hostility directed at Swiss players and fans when the sides meet for the first time since their bad-tempered clash in 2005.

This content was published on June 10, 2008 - 17:41

Emek Ege told swissinfo that most Turkish fans blame the national team coach, Fatih Terim, for the violent scenes at the end of the match in Istanbul. Switzerland play Turkey in a pivotal Euro 2008 group match on Wednesday.

Their previous encounter ended in an unsightly fracas between players and staff from both sides as Switzerland qualified for the 2006 World Cup at Turkey's expense, after a thrilling game.

Memories of those infamous scenes and the resulting punishments are still fresh in the minds of Turkish fans, according to Ege, a television journalist from the NTV station.

Fifa, world football's governing body, fined Turkey SFr200,000 ($192,000), forced it to play its next six international matches behind closed doors and handed out six-match bans to two Turks and one Swiss.

But Ege insists that the majority of fans blame Terim for inciting his players with perceived injustices from the first leg in Bern.

"Of course we have some fanatics, but most normal fans have no bad feelings towards Switzerland," Ege said. "Most of the anger is directed at Terim because he over-motivated his players by bringing up some bad memories from the first game in Switzerland."

He adds however that being forced to play six matches behind closed doors is still a source of frustration for many fans who were well behaved on the night.

"We've always had problems in Turkey with our fans but on this occasion it was the players who were at fault. The stands were packed, but on this occasion they did nothing and they were still punished."

Unloved

Not many Turks believe their team will qualify from a group that also contains Portugal and the Czech Republic, according to Ege. But he thinks the Swiss match represents the best opportunity of returning home with points in the bank and some pride intact.

He says that matches against European opposition have taken on a greater significance since relations between Turkey and the European Union became strained recently. The fact that Switzerland is not in the EU does not appear to complicate this thinking.

"Sport is the only platform that we can use to compete head to head against Europe," he said.

A win on Wednesday would be more important for people with Turkish roots living in Switzerland than those residing in their native country, Ege believes.

"They want to win against Switzerland because they don't want to be on the receiving end of bad jokes. It is hard to be a Turk because nobody loves us," he said.

"Second-generation Turkish people living abroad are different from those still in Turkey so it would also be a means of connecting with their identity."

The Swiss side contains three players with Turkish roots – Gökhan Inler, Hakan Yakin and Eren Derdiyok. But Ege does not think they will be targeted by Turkish fans.

"Some people wish Derdiyok would play for Turkey but we can understand that if they live in another country they would want to play for that team. They have every right to play for Switzerland, but of course we are disappointed," he said.

swissinfo, Matthew Allen

Turkey, Euro 2008 and the World Cup

In the qualifying matches for Euro 2008 Turkey finished second in their group behind defending champions, Greece.

Like Switzerland, Turkey's first European championship final was in England in 1996, where both were eliminated in the qualifying round.

Turkey qualified again for the 2000 championship held in Belgium and the Netherlands, where they reached the quarterfinals but were defeated 2-0 by Portugal.

Turkey have twice played in a World Cup: in Switzerland in 1954 and again in 2002 where they finished third.

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Switzerland vs Turkey

Switzerland play Turkey in Basel on Wednesday during the second set of games in Group A at Euro 2008. Both teams lost their opening matches on June 7.

The sides have met on 14 previous occasions, with Turkey winning seven times and Switzerland on four occasions. Both teams have scored 19 goals against each other during those matches.

The previous time the sides met was the now infamous World Cup second-leg qualifying match in Istanbul in November 2005.

Switzerland lost the dramatic match 4-2, but qualified for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany thanks to a 2-0 win in the first leg in Bern.

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