Calm down people, soccer is supposed to be fun, episode 205,834: a gunman shot at Fenerbahçe’s team bus.
The Turkish league leaders must have been feeling pretty good as they made their way to Trabzon airport on Saturday after a 5-1 win over nearby Rizespor. Then the mood was shattered by an apparent rifle shot that injured the bus driver, sending him to hospital.
“When we saw blood and the shattered driver’s side window, it quickly turned into a scary moment for everyone on the bus,” forward Emmanuel Emenike told the BBC.
One of the most disturbing things about this incident is that it didn’t come as a complete surprise, because there’s often trouble any time Fenerbahçe come near Trabzon, home of their deadly (and that word doesn’t seem like an exaggeration) rivals, Trabzonspor.
“There had been other violent attacks over the years,” an official said, according to the BBC. “Every time we go to Rize, the police take tight security measures, place police officers and cars every 100 meters on the road.
“The security measures would end at the entrance of Rize. But there would always be Trabzonspor fans attacking our bus with stones. In 2004 one of our players was injured after a stone hit his head.
“Two years ago, against Trabzonspor, their fans pulled out a gun towards the administrator’s bus but did not shoot. It was recorded on a live TV program. We could see it coming. We have no problem at Rize. But playing in Trabzon is like playing in a rebel zone.”
To reiterate: Fenerbahçe weren’t even playing Trabzonspor, just passing through. Not surprisingly, the club called for the league to be suspended. Slightly surprisingly, it issued a statement that veered into conspiracy theory and referenced the match-fixing/organized crime scandal that saw the club expelled from European competition and its chairman sent to prison:
“This incident is not a simple fan act that can be covered up but an organized and designed armed attack and an attempt of assassination against Fenerbahçe. The incident can be considered as the peak point of the hostility against Fenerbahçe, which has been rushed up, protected, and even rewarded by certain powers since the July Frame (alleged match fixing period).”
On Monday, the club got their wish, when the Turkish Super League was suspended for a week. Let’s hope that’s enough time for some level of sanity to re-assert itself.