Playing Love and Hate

The choice of words to describe the loyalties and rivalries is sometimes dramatic and sometimes comparable to those used in a romantic relationship. Words such as ‘love’ and ‘hate’ are central terms in the interviews for the description of the game in general, and especially for their own club and the opponent club respectively.[1] Metin, a Galatasaray fan, explains it in the interview like this:

I have worn the Galatasaray shirt since I was about six years old. I’ve worn it since then. And I love it a lot. Like a sweetheart.[2]

This is also mirrored in fan songs about football clubs. During the interview with Ayla, she was translating some of her favourite Fenerbah^e songs for me:

It was our anniversary song. For our hundredth birthday and people are still singing it a lot. A famous, popular Turkish singer wrote and sang it especially for Fenerbahfe. How can I translate it? “You are everywhere where I breathe, you are the only thing my heart screams and yearns for. Nobody will understand the love like you. You are like the child, the smiling child in my heart.”[3]

Here again, Fenerbah^e can be compared to a love affair or a lover that gets ‘serenaded’. The opposite feeling to this is hatred. The Galatasaray fan Sinan emphasised his hatred towards Fenerbah^e in every single meeting, interview and during matches, often comparing it to his acceptance of Bejiktaj who, after all, he also considers a rival, but not an enemy.

But yes, this hatred that I have against Fenerbahfe, I don’t have it towards Bejiktaj, I have a Bejiktaj t-shirt at home.[4]

Sinan invited me to his work place to show me YouTube videos. He told me that these videos are really important to understand Turkish football and therefore they would be necessary for me to watch. These videos showed how Fenerbah^e fans were demolishing the stadium and streets in Istanbul after Galatasaray won the championship in 2012. The final match of the season took place in the Fenerbah^e stadium (§ukru Saracoglu Stadyumu) and because of the ‘derby ban’ Galatasaray fans were not allowed.[5]

The videos he showed me were predominantly about Fenerbah^e fans rioting in the streets of Istanbul, in the Fenerbah^e stadium, and setting cars alight in Istanbul. Thereby, he intended to paint a colourful picture of ‘the rude, violent, uncivilised Fenerbah^e fan’ that he could contrast with himself, the ‘civilised’ Galatasaray fan. These othering practices were very common in all interviews with both Galatasaray and Fenerbah^e fans alike. Sinan did show me these videos so I could understand how ‘barbaric’ Fenerbah^e fans act (and to make sure that I write about it in my book), but at the same time, he was fascinated by these videos and the amount of trouble only Fenerbah^e fans (in his view) caused. This included a video where Fenerbah^e fans turned a police car upside down.[6] When showing this video, the last, it becomes clear that the video session is a playful and situative practice of boundary making. In the end, Sinan concluded that, after all, the worst enemy is not Fenerbah^e but the police and therefore he approved of the actions towards the police shown in the videos to some extent.

Discussing the better team by degrading the opposite team is a central part of the rivalry construction among Galatasaray and Fenerbah^e fans. Othering the opposite team in an orientalising manner by attributing, in the fans’ opinion, negative characteristics to it, is crucial for the distinction and therefore for the performative creation of the antagonism. In the next example we will see how these selfing and othering narratives are used in a discussion between a Galatasaray fan and a Fenerbah^e fan.

2012, accessed 1 September 2015).

  • [1] In the German football context the example of Borussia Dortmund illustrates how the ‘love’ canalso become part of a marketing strategy with their slogan: ‘Echte Liebe’ (true love).
  • [2] Interview Metin, 45 years old, male, Galatasaray fan, Metin and his family’s apartment, Viennesesuburb, afternoon; together with his daughter Derya, 15 years old, Galatasaray fan and his wifeNevin, in her forties.
  • [3] Interview Ayla, 25 years old, female, Fenerbah^e fan, 30 April 2013, her work place, Vienna,afternoon.
  • [4] Interview Sinan, 24 years old, male, Galatasaray fan, 23 November 2012, atelier at his university,Vienna, afternoon.
  • [5] The derby ban prohibits fans of the opposite team from attending Istanbul derbies out of ‘safetyreasons’. For more information please see: Hurriyet Daily News [Yilmaz, ^. C.] (2012): Despiteprotests, derby ban on visiting fans is here to stay, ewsCatID=44, (published 11 December 2012, accessed 28 November 2013). For more information about the incidents on that match day please see: (2012):Schwere Krawalle nach Titelgewinn von Galatasaray., (published 13 May
  • [6] (2012) Fenerbah^e — Galatasaray Ma^i Sonrasi ^ikan Olaylar ^ampiyonluk Ma^i,, (published 12 May 2012, accessed 15October 2013).
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