Situated on the Bosphorus Strait in North-Western Turkey, Istanbul is a thriving city with a population of nearly 13,000,000 people. The city is the link between Europe and Asia, therefore, the only city in the world located in two continents. Football isn’t just a hobby in Istanbul, its a national obsession and the fans are arguably the most passionate in the world. There are three major clubs in Istanbul: Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Besiktas.
Signing of Roberto Carlos shows Fenerbahce’s financial dominance
Fenerbahce Spor Kubulu are located in the Kadikoy region of Istanbul and are the most supported sports club in Turkey. They have a more ‘working class’ following and were founded in 1907 by three young Turks who wanted to avoid any trouble from the Ottoman rule. Located on the ‘Asian’ side of the city, Fenerbahce Sports Club competes in a number of different sports including football, basketball, athletics and volleyball. The ‘Yellow Canaries’ play their football in the Surku Saracoglu stadium, which recently hosted the UEFA Cup Final, and has a capacity of 53, 500. Fenerbahce have won 26 Turkish SuperLig titles in their history, the first coming in 1959 and the most recent fifty years later. Recently, they have seen huge investment from wealthy fans and sponsors and have managed to attract players like Roberto Carlos and Dani Guiza to Turkey. In 2008, Fenerbahce reached the quarter finals of the Champions League before losing out to Chelsea, in a run which saw manager Zico adored by the supporters.
Gheorghe Hagi – Cim Bom’s Romanian Hero
Fenerbahce’s huge city rivals are Galatasaray Spor Kulubu and both have jostled for dominance in the Turkish game. Cim Bom are the most successful side in Turkish football history and have added two European honours in 2000 to the 17 Turkish SuperLig titles in their glittering history. Galatasaray play at the famous Ali Sami Yen Stadium in the Sisli district of Istanbul but will move to a new stadium at the end of 2010. The stadium is named after the founder of Galatasaray SK, Ali Sami Yen, who studied at Galatasaray Lycee and decided to follow the English footsteps and create a football team. One of their most famous sides came at the beginning of the last decade and were managed by Fatih Terim, the former Turkish national coach. Many top players such as Mario Jardel, Taffarel, Hakan Sukur and Gheorghe Hagi, still the greatest non-Turk to play in the country. In recent years, Galatasaray have suffered financial problems compared with their rich neighbours and, as a result, have only won 3 titles in the last 10 years.
Besiktas celebrate their recent SuperLig success
In the Besiktas district of Istanbul lies the current Turkish champions Besiktas Jimnastik Kulubu. Since being founded in 1905, the Black Eagles are regularly forgotten about when Turkey’s top two sides meet in the famous Istanbul derby. However, they have won the Turkish SuperLig 13 times and finished runners up 14 times which shows they have a very successful history like their rivals. The Inonu Stadium holds just over 32,000 and is situated close to the Dolmabahce Palace in the wealthy Besiktas district. BJK are mainly followed by ‘middle-class’ supporters and they had their most successful spell in the early 90s when they won three consecutive SuperLig titles. In the current crop, they have a number of big players like Turkish International Nihat Kahveci and Slovakian Filip Holosko, who are led by Turkish manager Mustafa Denizli.
The world famous Istanbul derby is one of the most passionate and rarely goes without incidents
The Kitalar Arasi Derbi occurs twice a year and brings the usually bustling city of Istanbul to a standstill as Fenerbahce and Galatasaray lock horns in one of the most passionate and bitter rivalries in World Football. With 364 meetings between the two giants, the ‘Yellow Canaries’ have came out on top 138 times. Galatasaray followers usually boast about their two European successes in 2000 and their record 7-0 at Fenerbahce in 1911. However, on a famous November night in 2002, Fenerbahce fans got their reward with a 6-0 thumping of their rivals which is remembered fondly by the ‘Yellow Canaries’. Sadly, this match has brought many lives to an end in Istanbul with the knife-culture being mostly to blame.
With neither of the three giants from Istanbul leading the way in the current Turkish SuperLig, the jostling for dominance which has seen Besiktas crowned most recent champions from Istanbul will continue on for the future as Turkey makes its position safe as one of the top football leagues in Europe.