Last night in the championship game between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray of Turkey, when Galatasaray won the title, the cup could not be given at a ceremony in the stadium as promised by the Football Federation. Fenerbahce fans, after a peaceful game, having understood that the title had gone to their biggest rival and that the cup would be given in their own stadium, sought to prevent this, by fighting with the police till midnight. Even though it was triggered by improper use of force by the police, the significant motivation in the events was Fenerbahce fansʼ wish to preserve their stadium as a stage for their own team, and not to allow their colors to become a background for the ceremony of their rivalʼs victory. Cars were burnt, hundreds of fans used weapons against the police, and scores of fans and police officers were wounded. The Anatolian side of İstanbul was on fire. The lights in the stadium had gone out and the pitch was occupied by hundreds of Fenerbahce fans. After waiting for many hours under the smell of pepper gas intended to disperse the Fenerbahce fans, club and federation officials decided to consult the Prime Minister, himself a Fenerbahce fan. According to ʻhis majestyʼs orderʼ, the cup would be given to Galatasaray on the pitch as promised. Only a Prime Minister who was also a Fenerbahce fan was entitled to make this decision. The championship cup was presented on the half-lit pitch to the Galatasaray players so that they could have a picture of the cup in their hands with the name of their biggest rivals behind them, engraved on the broken chairs of the empty stadium.
Football is rich in symbols. But these symbols are not signs standing for any known thing. They are a part of one of the last ʻdisinterestedʼ loves of football fans. Colours and logos of the club are always the best colors and logos for that clubʼs fan. They are linked to memories of past victories. Old times are and ought to be recalled only in their happiest moments. But if the colours of a football club mean something, they find their meaning when placed next to those of their greatest rivals. The colours of two big rivals - blue vs. red in England, yellow-red vs yellow-navy in Turkey, blue vs scarlet in Spain - create an affect of opposition, a contrast in the sports viewerʼs eye. No longer in a conceptual way but more like a Delezuian compound of sentiments created by a ʻjuxtaposition of complemantariesʼ, or colours that are ʻbrokenʼ with other colors as Van Gogh put it. A fanʼs greatest dream is to sublimate the colours of his team while at the same time staining the colours of his rivals. The team can only become the champions when they prove this by dominating and therefore humiliating their biggest rivals. As Battalle said, we love beauty in order to stain it. We want to stain the colours of our rivals, which, we know instinctively, are the most beautiful colours for their supporters. For this reason, the most important cup is the one given in a rivalʼs stadium, which, in the mind of a fan, is a temple for their rivalsʼ fans.
When the Galatasaray players lifted the cup, the yellow-navy colours of the stands at the back of the stadium were almost hidden in the darkness created by Fenerbahce supporters. It was past midnight, it was still degrading for the yellow-navies and it was all about symbols. At the exact same time, Galatasaray fans in North-East London were stopping the busses and asking passengers to shout ʻYellowʼ in order to shout back at them with a ʻRedʼ. ʻYellow-Red, En Büyük Cimbomʼ1 12.May.2012
1. ‘En büyük cimbom!’ (Turkish) : ‘Cimbom is the best!’ Cimbom is the nickname of Galatasaray. The name remains a mystery even for supporters. Set up by students of a French high school with the same name in İstanbul, rumour has it that Galatasaray went on tour to Switzerland in the 1920’s, where they learnt a Swiss song called ‘Jim Bom Bom’. Alternatively they might have learnt the song from Sabit Cinol, who played for the team in Servette, Switzerland, around the same time, and came back to Galatasaray in 1924. The song which Cinol apparently taught his teammates – ‘Ra ra ra, re re re, Galatasaray Galatasaray Cim bom bom’ - is probably a Swiss adaptation of the popular Charleston song ‘I love My Chili Bom Bom’, composed and played by the Savoy Havana Band of the 1920s. Savoy Havana was a British dance band. One of the best-known bands in Europe at the time, they composed the song in 1923 when they were residents at the Savoy Hotel in London. It is a coincidence in this story that ‘Cimbom’, which was originally composed in London, was now being played by a chorus of Turkish fans in the same city , almost a century later, but this time with a ‘colourful’ vocal resonating across London busses.