Greece, mistreatment of Galatasaray at the Athens airport

Tension between Turkey and Greece over the treatment to Galatasaray

Galatasaray had to return to Turkey as Greece rejected the PCR tests carried out on the players, who received “unacceptable” treatment.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu phoned his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias amid the tension between Turkey and Greece over the treatment given to Galatasaray, who announced early today that it would not dispute the friendly match against Olympiacos in Athens over the treatment received by its players at the airport, and after the Greek authorities rejected the PCR tests carried out in Turkey.

Through his Twitter account, Çavuşoğlu harshly criticised the “malicious and unsportsmanlike treatment that Galatasaray suffered in Greece”, which he said “is unacceptable”. “We will always be with all our teams!” Added the Turkish minister.

Also the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Tanju Bilgiç, issued a statement referring to the events, and explaining that the Istanbul team decided to return to Turkey due to this “mistreatment and arbitrary behaviour” by the Greek authorities.

“It is far from being respectful and a good faith behaviour that the PCR tests carried out (by Galatasaray) and the results, which were negative, were not considered valid (at the Athens airport) and that the entire team be asked to take the tests again”, stressed Bilgiç.

Greece rejected PCR tests performed on players in Turkey

Galatasaray denounced today the treatment received at the Athens airport, which they described as discriminatory, rude and unfair, as a result of a dispute arising over the procedures against the coronavirus carried out by Turkish players before traveling to the Hellenic capital.

The club assures that the PCR tests carried out by the players were rejected by the Greek authorities, adding that despite the fact that all the procedures had been completed, the players and the rest of the team’s personnel were forced to wait at the airport for two hours, with no apparent explanation from Greek officials.

In a statement released today as a result of the incident, the Turkish team stated that it was forced to cancel the friendly match with Olympiacos and return to Istanbul due to the rejection of the PCR tests carried out on the players in Turkey, as well as because of the “rude” behaviour of Greek officials.

“One of the Greek officials said that they did not accept our PCR tests, and that we had to rerun the tests, with an impertinent attitude, and even despite the fact that there is a protocol of mutual recognition between Turkey and Greece of the PCR tests (made in the other country)”, explained the club. “Our team initiated procedures to return to Istanbul after all our efforts failed,” the statement added.

“It is the first time that Galatasaray, the club that wears the Turkish flag on its shirt with great pride, and has represented Turkey in Europe on many occasions, have suffered such disrespect. We expect an apology to our country from the Greek authorities for their treatment, which was contrary to human rights,” the club insisted.

“Unacceptable” treatment of Greek authorities to Galatasaray

The Turkish press reported today that the Turkish ambassador in Athens, Burak Özügergin, went in person to the airport to try to solve the problem and support Galatasaray, although ultimately without success.

The event, initially related to sports, has led to a diplomatic incident between two neighbouring countries that share a common geography in the Eastern Mediterranean, a history, and even many cultural features, but that maintain important political tensions, despite the fact that in recent months there have been notable advances in this regard.

Through Twitter, the Turkish Minister of Youth and Sports, Mehmet Kasapoğlu, also condemned the treatment of Galatasaray players by the Greek authorities. “I have spoken by phone with the club president, Burak Elmas, and (coach) Fatih Terim, and I have told them that we are with them,” announced Kasapoğlu.

For its part, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) also published a message on its official website, in which it said that the treatment received by Galatasaray in Greece “is unacceptable, and in addition Galatasaray complied with all (health) procedures”, and condemned the behaviour of the Greek authorities with the Istanbul club: a treatment that “damages” the sports spirit.