A controversial tie between Süper Lig leaders Medipol Başakşehir from Istanbul and Antalyaspor, in which the referee made several controversial decisions and refused to use the VAR system to adjudicate a foul, has renewed claims of favoritism for the Istanbul team.
It’s most famous (or infamous as some of his detractors might say) supporter is none other than Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who claims he founded the club during his time as mayor of Istanbul and in February expressed his pride on the state television broadcaster at the team’s performance.
The 29-year old Istanbul club solidified its position atop the Süper Lig last weekend with a 1-0 away win over Antalyarspor.
But it was the 86th minute that drew howls of protest and overshadowed Başakşehir’s win when Antalya’s Serdar Tasci fired a shot from the right. As Souleymane Doukara rose to meet the incoming ball he came down on the ground between two defenders with immediate calls for a foul.
The home team appealed desperately for a penalty but referee Mete Kalkavan did not agree and he refused requests to review the incident the scene on the VAR (Video Referee Application), ordering the match to continue.
Antalyaspor midfielder player Yekta Kurtulus harshly criticized the Referee’s decision.
“We didn’t play with the motivation of tripping Basaksehir up, but we wanted to win the game for ourselves. But we knew that the referee would not allow us to win the game. The referee’s whistle was blown in all positions in favor of Basaksehir. If referees check the VAR for only one side, then they should remove the VAR system,” he said.
Mehmet Demirkol, a senior commentator for beIN SPORTS, Turkey’s official football publisher, came out in support of Kurtulus’ comments and said Kalkavan made many mistakes against Antalyaspor and acted in favor of Basaksehir several times.
Referees under pressure?
Erman Toroglu, a former football player and referee, questioned whether the Turkish Football Federation forces referees to be in favor of Basaksehir during games.
He slammed Mete Kalkavan for his whistles during the game in Antalya, by asking if he “gets an order from someone,” to guarantee a win to the club supported by the head of Turkish government.
Toroglu who writes and comments for pro-government daily and TV channel said: “So far, we were tolerating that the referees make a mistake, they couldn’t see the position, but now (as the technology improved) referees have a camera in front of their eyes. You (referees) now look with six eyes (they have camera supports). If they don’t see the situation in the field, VAR system must alert referees, if the person who controls VAR doesn’t help the referee to see the details of the game, it means there is some controversy in this game.”
Turkish Süper Lig is in the 23rd week, with Başakşehir on top, 6 points ahead of Galatasaray. In third place is Beşiktas on 39 points. Three teams will be playing each other in the coming weeks.