(Original piece at http://mediolana.wordpress.com/2011/...eksi-football/
SEPTEMBER 22, 2011 · 11:03 PM
♀♥Welcome to Heaven: Fenerbahçe’s Women Redefine ‘Seksi Football’ ♥♀
The area of Kadıköy on the Asian side of the megalopolis that is Istanbul will be familiar to most tourists to that city as the location of a ferry terminal; while its role as a commuter hub is likely to decline somewhat with the proposed Q4 2013 inauguration of the transcontinental Marmaray rail link, Kadıköy is likely to retain a good deal of prominence as the home of Fenerbahçe S.K. (‘Fenerbahçe’, ‘Fener’). A wildly popular sports club – Fener have more supporters in Turkey than Juventus, Italy’s most popular team, possess in their domestic market – Fenerbahçe’s football branch is nevertheless a chronic underachiever at European level, with one quarter-final appearance in the 2007-2008 UEFA Champions League the acme of its attainments.
However, on 20th September 2011 – and through an otherwise unexceptional Süper Lig draw with lowly Manisaspor – Fenerbahçe S.K. entered footballing folklore in a most unforgettable manner. As a consequence of violence at, of all games, a pre-season friendly with Ukrainian idols Shakhtar Donetsk, Fener were ordered by the Turkish Football Federation (‘TFF’) to play two matches behind closed doors; the TFF later tweaked their rules to ban only male fans from age 13 upwards from the two games, permitting women and children to attend. The first of these ties was Tuesday night’s encounter with the team from Manisa – and in the stands, an aural and visual spectacle of the like scarcely witnessed before at a game of soccer was the result.
Perusing video footage of a sublime occasion, we at Mediolana believe that there are many lessons to be drawn from this particular Turkish model:
. The virtually 100% female crowd of 41,663 at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium seemed exultant in their identity as women in a way that is unfamiliar to many in Western Europe and North America, viewing traditional expressions of femininity as a strength: babies and young children were proudly on show, with many supporters dressing – with the exception of the ubiquitous replica tops – as they would for a relaxed evening out. Yet anyone expecting submissiveness was to be sorely disappointed; whether kitted out in bikini-style two-pieces or silk tesettür headscarves, one got the strong impression that these women could handle anyone or anything foolish enough to transgress against them.
. When the TFF’s decision to relax its admission rules to permit women and children to attend the ‘closed doors’ matches was promulgated, some pointed to the possible discriminatory elements inherent in the decision: the banning of all adult male fans as ‘unruly’; the admission of women and children only as a ‘punishment’, and so on. However, when looked at as a chivalric directive made in a spirit of generosity and humility, this change of policy is simply inspired: the female-dominated crowd acted as a reminder of the true spirit of football, whilst getting to enjoy some top-quality soccer gratis.
. In an era when all-seater stadia and executive boxes have rendered many grounds – particularly, though not exclusively, in England – into corporatised media ‘events’ as far removed from the everyday reality of most fans as a Pixar animation, Fenerbahçe’s feminine hordes provide a stark admonishment that contemporary arenas with all the expected amenities do not excuse supporters adopting a sanitised mindset: noise, colour and choreography can be created anywhere if the passion is undying.