The above photo went viral after Turkey defeated the Czech Republic. In the photo, Turkish players Emre Mor and Burak Yılmaz are celebrating Turkey’s first goal against the Czech Republic. A twitter user noted in his tweet: “While there is a happiness, innocence and hope in Emre Mor celebration, Burak Yılmaz’s face is like a “Turkey”. You can write a sociology thesis on this picture.” The author clearly intends to say that talented, wonder-kid Emre Mor’s — who was born in Denmark — happy face symbolizes the European mentality, which does not include unprofessional behaviour, while Burak Yılmaz’s ugly and ambitious face symbolizes “Turkey.” This tweet received more than 20K retweets.

So, why people did share this photo? Firstly I need to say that it’s an exaggeration to say that this photo symbolizes differences of character and mentality between Turkey and European countries. For me it is a just a goal celebration and you can find many different  and interesting scenes while players celebrate their goals. However, this tweet can also be read as a reaction to the Turkish national team from supporters in social media after Turkey lost its first two matches in Euro 2016. Especially after the Turkey-Spain match, which Turkey lost 3-0 and played terribly, many rumors began to circulate about the Turkish national football team.

One of the most important crises concerned the national team players’ bonus fee for participating in EURO 2016. According to Turkish sports media, the bonus distributed by the Turkish Football Association was shared by Fatih Terim with all players on the Turkish national team except centre-forward Burak Yılmaz. The supposed reason was that Yılmaz was injured many times and he was frequently absent from the Turkish national team during the Euro 2016 qualifying stage. Thus, he didn’t contribute much according to the team’s coach Fatih Terim. Subsequently, Burak Yılmaz supposedly complained about the lack of a bonus to captain Arda Turan. Burak Yılmaz’s complaint led to a crisis between Arda Turan and Terim. Some of players supposedly took a stand against Fatih Terim. After this crisis was leaked to the media, there was intense reaction from Turkish supporters, and they blamed some national team footballers for being greedy. Many commentators then claimed that this unfriendly atmosphere in theteam caused its poor performance during the tournament.

Some observers may be right to criticize Turkish footballers and Fatih Terim. They can accuse the players of being unprofessional. However it should not be forgotten that more than 20 qualified players are joining these camps. They have huge egos and can have some problems each other or with the staff. The important point is how  the crisis will be handled in order to prevent the team from being affected negatively. Also, Turkey is not a unique example — for another example we can go back to 1974.

Just five days before the start of the 1974 World Cup, a series of heated negotiations broke out between the West German squad and the German FA (DFB). West German players had learned that the Italian and Dutch squads had been promised bonuses in excess of DM100,000 (then £16,000), compared to their own bonus of just DM30,000.

Journalist and author Chris Hunt wrote the rest of story in his book World Cup Stories:

“ ”There was a real haggling session,” says Maier (a West German footballer). “Helmut Schön [the West Germany coach] said we were greedy and that people would spit on us in the street if they found out. He wanted to have nothing more to do with us.”

The arguments extended through the night, and by the early hours of the morning both Paul Breitner and coach Schön had their suitcases packed. Schön had even threatened at one point to send all 22 players home and contest the World Cup with a second string squad. FIFA having been notified that there might be a last minute change. After much discussion and negotiations, the DFB made a final offer of DM70,000 per a man.

The squad, who had voted democratically on every offer, was split evenly, with 11 players still holding out for the DM75,000 they had demanded. This time Beckenbauer took the initiative and instructed the squad to accept the offer.”

At the end of the tournament West Germany won the World Cup. Despite the crisis that had emerged between the footballers, the DFB, and the team coach in camp, the West Germans solved the problem and triumphed in the 1974 World Cup. Other such crises and disputes have occurred in different national team camps during international tournaments.

Unfortunately, Turkey was eliminated from Euro 2016. The Turkish national team’s football was a disappointment for supporters, compiling only 3 points and  scoring 2 goals. While Germany won the World Cup in 1974, Turkey could not show its potential. It is safe to say that both teams witnessed a similar crisis but Turkey was not able to overcome it.

Enes Çallı
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