Turkish title challengers Basaksehir involved in melee with member of the press

Turkish title challengers Basaksehir involved in melee with member of the press

Istanbul Basaksehir, the Leicester City of the Turkish league, the underdogs challenging the old guard. The unlikely title challengers have captured the imagination of the public but a public bust-up threatens to cast a shadow over their achievements.

Several Basaksehir players were involved in physically attacking A Spor journalist Selman Kutlu and cameraman Ahmet Çağlar Yıldırım following the 3-3 draw against Rizespor at the Yeni Rize stadium.

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The incident unfolded in the carpark outside of the stadium. A Rizespor fan reportedly hurled abuse at Basaksehir star Emre Belozoglu through a fence separating fans and the players. The former Newcastle United midfielder reacted by jumping on the fence in rage. Belozoglu’s teammates soon turned their attention to the reporter and cameraman who caught the incident on film.

Turkey national team goalkeeper Volkan Babacan placed his hands on the neck of the journalist.

Ufuk Ceylan then attempted to push and hit the reporters followed by defender Yalcin Ayhan who lashed out with a kick.

Police officers at the scene intervened and the reporter and cameraman were taken to hospital. A Spor have confirmed that the incident has been reported to the police.

An investigation has been launched into the incident by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the Black Sea.  Five suspects have been called in for questioning including Volkan Babacan, second-choice goalkeeper Ufuk Ceylan, defender Yalçın Ayhan, team translator Barbaros Gözmeli and an unnamed Basaksehir kitman have been called in for questioning.

Basaksehir president Goksel Gumusdag released a statement apologising for the incident.

“For me, the board members and our coach, having the spirit of being a ‘college team’ is more important than any sporting success,” Gumusdag said.

“The unpleasant dispute between some of our players and our press members has deeply distressed me.

“I sincerely apologise to our press members who were affected by the event.”

Belozoglu has been involved in controversial incidents in the past. The experienced midfielder was issued with a six match suspension from Turkish national team games for his role in a brawl after the 2006 World Cup qualification playoff match against Switzerland.

The 36-year-old was not however, directly involved in the assault on the reporters. Basaksehir did have a reputation as being one of the better behaved sides in the league. The Istanbul minnows have only had three players sent off this season.

Second-placed Basaksehir closed the gap with leaders Besiktas to just four-points following the draw. The Black Eagles could however, go seven points clear with a win over Adanaspor on Sunday.

Basaksehir would become the sixth club to win the Turkish league if they lift the title this season. The Istanbul based outfit were founded in 1990 and operate on a shoestring budget compared to their cross-city neighbours.