Istanbul derby called off after Besiktas protest boycott

Fenerbahce's players warm up prior to the rescheduled Turkish Cup semi second leg final football match between Fenerbahce and Besiktas on May 3, 2018 at Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in Istanbul, which was then called off
AFP

Istanbul (AFP) – The resumption of an abandoned Turkish Cup match between top sides Fenerbahce and Besiktas of Istanbul was called off Thursday when Besiktas failed to show up in protest against Turkey’s football federation.

The April 19 semi-final second leg at Fenerbahce’s ground was abandoned in the 57th minute with the scores level after Besiktas coach Senol Gunes was hit by an object hurled out of the stands.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) then ordered the match to resume on Thursday from the time it stopped and behind closed doors.

But Besiktas maintained they should have been awarded an automatic victory and vowed not to turn up to the resumption, arguing Fenerbahce were behind the violence.

The TFF Wednesday had rejected an appeal by Besiktas against the ruling and ordered the resumption should go ahead.

Fenerbahce arrived at their ground and were seen carrying out their routine warm-up moves on the pitch in the empty stadium under coach Aykut Kocaman, an AFP photographer said.

But with no sign of Besiktas as the clock ticked past the 1730 GMT start time, referee Mete Kalkavan cancelled the match.

The final decision on the game rests with the TFF, which is expected to award a 3-0 walkover to Fenerbahce for the rival team not turning up.

Besiktas also risk being thrown out of next season’s Turkish Cup competition.

Minutes before the start of the game, Besiktas pointedly posted pictures on social media accounts of the side busy training for an upcoming league match against Kayserispor.

In the Turkish Cup final scheduled for May 9 in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Fenerbahce would face Akhisar who surprisingly knocked out Galatasaray in the other semi-final.

The match is to be the first played at a brand new stadium in the Kurdish majority city and the event is seen as of major national significance.

Turkish media had reported that the issue had grown to such importance that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had personally contacted Besiktas chairman Fikret Orman urging him to reverse the decision on boycotting the restart of the match.

However Besiktas said the reports were “totally unfounded” and “lies”.

Besiktas supporters, many of whom are famously anti-establishment, claim an official bias exists against their side although the authorities reject this.

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