Hundreds of Turkish supporters booed Israel’s Maccabi as the team was warming up before Thursday’s Europa League match against Turkish side Besiktas. Turkish officials put on loud music to cover the shouts produced by Turkish fans.
The Turkish Football Federation anticipated this situation tightened up the security on the football field, 2,000 policemen were deployed in and around the stadium, stationing over two thousand policemen in and around the Besiktas JK Inönü Stadium. About a dozen Maccabi supporters stood in a netted area separated from home supporters. Some Turks shouted anti-Israel slogans, but the match was not marred by violence as Besiktas hammered Maccabi 5-1.
Tensions between Turkey and Israel have been especially high since Israel carried out a raid on six Gaza-bound ships last year that resulted in the death of nine Turkish activists and refused to apologize for it. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators raised Palestinian flags and burned an Israeli flag. A female Pro-Palestinian activist shouted that Maccabi had Israeli soldiers on their team.
And indeed, the Israel Defense Forces allowed Maccabi players currently serving in the Israeli army to go to Istanbul for the match through there were some concerns initially.
Surprisingly enough, Maccabi head coach Mordehay Iwanir said that the game atmosphere was not hostile, even ‘fantastic’ and blamed the Maccabi defense for the humiliating loss.