Violence-hit Istanbul derby to resume behind closed doors

Besiktas head coach Senol Gunes (C) holds his head after being hit by an object during the Ziraat Turkish Cup semi final second leg football match between Fenerbahce and Besiktas on April 19, 2018 at Fenerbahce stadium in Istanbul

Istanbul (AFP) – The Turkish Cup semi-final second leg between Besiktas and Fenerbahce will resume behind closed doors next week after violence forced the Istanbul rivals to abandon their ill-tempered encounter on April 20.

Fenerbahce were at home when last Friday’s match was stopped in the 57th minute after Besiktas coach Senol Gunes was struck by an object thrown from the stands.

He required five stitches and was hospitalised after the incident.

The Turkish Football Federation on Wednesday ordered the match to resume “from the time it stopped” but without any spectators as a precaution.

The arch rivals were locked at 0-0 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate.

The federation’s disciplinary committee also ordered Fenerbahce to play three home matches behind closed doors and pay a one million Turkish lira ($244,000) fine.

Besiktas substitute goalkeeper Tolga Zengin was suspended for a match for “behaviour towards a security official contrary of sportsmanship”.

The same penalty was given to Portuguese defender Pepe, who was sent off for a reckless tackle.

The attack on Gunes sparked a wave of anger in Turkey with criticism also coming from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as it reignited the debate about football violence.

Accusations from Fenerbahce’s chairman Aziz Yildirim that Gunes was “acting” and pretending to be injured provoked an avalanche of angry comments on social media.

The legendary rivalry between the “big three of Istanbul” has been felt keenly this season, with only a small gap at the top of the league.

Galatasaray, despite being top, are only one point ahead of Besiktas and Basaksehir, who are two points ahead of Fenerbahce.