Fener hosts Monaco to end CL thirst
Shaken by a coup attempt on July 15, Turkey will try to return to football fever on July 27 when Fenerbahçe, the Spor Toto Super League runner-up, will host France's Monaco in a Champions League qualifying match.
However, the tense atmosphere has already put a mark on the game, with police taking extra measures and the Istanbul side calling on its fans for calm.
“Any pitch incident that is against the spirit of sports will result in a big material and moral loss for our club,” read a rare statement by Fenerbahçe.
“Fans have to remain calm against any provocation from rival fans,” it read.
“Monaco demanded some extra security measures. We took these measures. We will make sure that their safety has the utmost guarantee,” Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç told Reuters on July 25.
Kılıç said Turkey would react negatively to a potential Monaco demand to postpone the game, pointing to France hosting the Euro 2016 tournament under a state of emergency after terror attacks.
“So we should have withdrawn the Turkish national team from the tournament? There is nothing negative going on in Turkey now. Everything has been taken under control swiftly,” he said.
French fans will not be allowed into Turkey if French authorities make a decision not to let in Turkish fans for the second leg on Aug. 3, Kılıç said.
He also criticized comments by foreign sportsmen leaving Turkey citing security concerns after the failed coup attempt on July 15.
“Those who want to leave Turkey should not have made such statements. This upsets us. But it's their own decision. They are acting as if there is no terror risk in the countries they go to.”
The two sides will meet for the first time in their history and Fenerbahçe, which has to go through a playoff before the group stages if it can eliminate Monaco, aims at putting an end to its seven-year thirst to play in Europe's top league.
The Istanbul side has not appeared in the Champion's League for the past seven seasons due to either an UEFA-imposed ban or a lack of success.
Fener lost Portuguese winger Louis Nani to Spain's Valencia this summer but Dutch star Robin van Persie remained on the squad following weeks of speculation.
Fener right back Gökhan Gönül signed a contract with city rival Beşiktaş as left back and winger Caner Erkin moved to Inter.
Still, the team was empowered by former Liverpool center back Martin Skrtel, Dutch right back Gregory van der Wiel, Beşiktaş left back İsmail Köybaşı and Sivasspor striker Aatif Chahechouhe.
It will miss suspended Volkan Şen, Alper Potuk and Mehmet Topal against Monaco.
For its side, the Ligue 1 team expects a high performance after spending 42 million euros in transfers, including Lille left back Djibril Sidibe, Marseilles defender Benjamin Mendy and Torino defender Kamil Glik.