Basketball, Anadolu Efes vs Galatasaray

Scandal after Turkish Basketball Federation allowed a match with infected players

Galatasaray played a match with Anadolu Efes with several COVID-positive players, with the consent of the Turkish Basketball Federation.

In an unprecedented event in the world of basketball, Anadolu Efes, one of the most important teams in the Turkish basketball league, played a recent game with Galatasaray in which some players of this team were infected with coronavirus, and with the consent of the Turkish Basketball Federation, which is receiving lots of criticism for the risk situation created.

“Galatasaray played against us with one or two of their players having tested positive (for coronavirus). What a nonsense situation,” Anadolu Efes coach Ergin Ataman denounced after the match played two days ago at the Sinan Erdem Spor Salonu. In fact, Galatasaray itself had recognised this problem the day before the match, when on February 5 asked the Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF) to postpone the match, alleging that the team had “infected players”.

“Since we only have six healthy players, we will have to use COVID-19 positive players on the pitch tomorrow,” the club confirmed in an official statement posted on its website. However, on the same February 5, TBF rejected the request to postpone the match, based on the relaxation of restrictions and quarantine periods recently approved by the Turkish Health Ministry.

“The quarantine period for someone infected is (now) 7 days. And if that person’s tests are negative on the 5th or 6th day, he then can start training or playing the next day,” explained the Federation, only asking Galatasaray to test its infected players again. Despite the numerous criticisms that such a decision unleashed, TBF did not rectified, and the match was played with COVID-positive players before some 16,000 spectators.

“There is nothing more important than people’s health”

Anadolu Efes won the match 103-91, but that is not the issue that worries its coach, who like many other fans questions the Federation’s motives for deciding to go ahead with the planned match, despite the obvious risks involved. “For two days, we asked not to play. Some Galatasaray players even had to play without being able to train… That’s not fair. There is nothing more important than people’s health,” Ataman stated.

All eyes of the public during the basketball game between Anadolu Efes and Galatasaray were on the pitch; but this time, not to follow the match, but wondering who the infected players would be. After the match ended, Galata’s coach, Ekrem Memnun, acknowledged that they had played at a disadvantage and faced an “adverse situation”: “The player had low energy. We came after having suffered an illness”, said Memnun, adding that “most” of the tests carried out on the players just before the game had been negative… The coach, however, did not reveal details on how many players were infected, or who tested positive.