Fenerbahce wins league title with 40,000 women and children cheering it on

Martin Rogers
Fenerbahce wins league title with 40,000 women and children cheering it on
Fenerbahce wins league title with 40,000 women and children cheering it on

There were more than 40,000 smiling faces in the crowd at Fenerbahce's Sukru Saracoglu Stadium on Sunday as the Turkish club celebrated winning the league championship with three games to spare.

And not one of them was a man.

As a result of crowd trouble and hostility at previous games, adult males were banned from Fenerbahce's match against Caykur Rizespor. The stadium was packed with more than 40,000 women and children who celebrated a title-clinching 0-0 draw as one of Turkey's most storied clubs completed a memorable season.

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While it was an unusual sight in the male-heavy world of professional soccer, the result seemed to be a resounding success. The Fenerbahce players praised the joyous atmosphere throughout the contest.

"I am glad to be a part of this title," said Dutch star Dirk Kuyt, who joined the club from Liverpool in 2012.

However, while this might have been a public relations success, Fenerbahce still has some work to do on its reputation. The club was banned from this season's Europa League and will not be able to take part in the Champions League next season as punishment for its part in a wide-scale, match-fixing racket.

Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim looks set to return to prison after losing an appeal over his conviction relating to involvement in the scandal.

"This championship will make us forget all the difficulties we have had," said goalkeeper Volkan Demirel, who dedicated the trophy to both Yildirim and the casualties of last year's Gezi Park protests, where political protestors complained of heavy-handed police attacks.

Meanwhile, adult male fans who were not able to attend the game indulged in huge celebrations across Istanbul with singing, chanting, fireworks and a general sense of joy at having comprehensively outmatched fierce rivals Galatasaray all season.

Turkish FA officials have warned that they will not hesitate to implement similar sanctions again if there is any repeat of crowd trouble at future matches.

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