Istanbul derby abandoned after fans invade Ataturk pitch

Ataturk violenceBy Andrew Warshaw
September 23 - Turkey's hopes of being granted the Euro 2020 semifinal and finals suffered a public relations blow at the weekend when the Istanbul derby between Galatasaray and Besiktas was abandoned after supporters invaded the pitch at the Ataturk Stadium.

Hundreds of fans stormed on the field when Galatasaray midfielder Felipe Melo was sent off in stoppage time with their side leading 2-1, forcing the referee to order both sets of players to the safety of the dressing room.

The match was the first Istanbul derby of the season and followed months of civil unrest in Turkey's largest city. The stadium had been earmarked as central venue for the 2020 Olympics but when Istanbul lost out to Tokyo, attention switched to Turkey instead hosting the pan-Continental European Championships the same summer.

Last week, after UEFA announced that 32 countries had expressed interest in staging games, Turkey emerged as favourites to host the latter stages.

But television pictures of police using teargas in an attempt to regain control will hardly win sympathy among UEFA members.

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