Turkish gov’t denies Kurdish football team pitch for ceremony

The Turkish Sports Ministry has prevented Amedspor, a Turkish-Kurdish football club known for its importance to the Kurdish political movement, from using a pitch for a planned ceremony to mark the start of the 2018-19 season, according to a report by the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency.

The regional directorate of the Sports Ministry in Diyarbakır, the predominantly Kurdish home province of Amedspor, said the pitch would not be available for the opening ceremony due to maintenance work to repair punctured water pipes.

Amedspor officials called the directorate’s reasoning ridiculous, noting that no maintenance work had been planned before the opening ceremony despite ample time for work to take place during the off-season.

The club changed its name to incorporate Amed, the Kurdish name for the city of Diyarbakır, in 2014, earning the club a fine from the Turkish football federation. Since then, Amedspor fans and players have complained that they have been subject to racism and discrimination by Turkish supporters and football association officials, who have banned supporters from attending several matches.

The club’s former midfielder Deniz Naki was fined and suspended for 12 matches after posting a controversial tweet criticising the Turkish military’s response to an insurrection by Kurdish groups in southeast Turkey in 2016. (SCF with Ahval)

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