The Turkish Super Cup final between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce scheduled to be played in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh on Friday has been cancelled amid a row between the clubs and Saudi authorities, Turkish broadcaster NTV said.

There was no immediate official confirmation of the cancellation, which was reported by various media outlets.

Galatasaray and Fenerbahce had said they would not play in the final at Al-Awwal Park stadium if they were not allowed to wear t-shirts featuring the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, during the warm-up ahead of the match.

Turkish media said Saudi officials had rejected this demand, though it was not clear why. The match coincides with the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the secular Turkish Republic. There was no immediate comment from Saudi officials.

There were also media reports that Turkey’s national anthem and flag would not be allowed at the final but the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) earlier said they would feature.

The TFF has been contacted by Reuters for comment. The federation, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray were set to make a joint statement over the situation, media reported.

The incident came amid a recent warming of relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia in July amid efforts to repair ties that were ruptured after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.

The reported cancellation of the final added to what has been a controversy-filled month for Turkish soccer.

The president of top-tier club Ankaragucu, Faruk Koca, was arrested on Dec. 12 for punching a referee in the face at the end of a match. The TFF imposed a permanent ban on Koca and also sanctioned Ankaragucu.

The Turkish league was temporarily suspended due to the violence and when it resumed Istanbulspor walked off the pitch in protest at a refereeing decision in a Super Lig game against Trabzonspor. The game was then abandoned.

Leave a Reply