What are the expectations for the team?
If it weren’t for a scrappy qualifying campaign it would have been the semi-finals. Although it is a tough group, Turks are expecting their team to go through.
Are there any players who have appeared in TV commercials?
It doesn’t take much for a Turkish player to appear in a TV commercial. Any player with a half-decent face who plays for Fenerbahce, Galatasaray or Besiktas is in a TV ad. A group of players appear in a domestic cola brand’s commercials, while Villarreal’s Nihat Kahveci is doing an ad for the energy drink Powerade.
Is the coach popular?
Fatih Terim is officially the most successful football coach in the country’s history. But he hasn’t won any silverware for some time and he’s eager to prove himself on the international stage. One of those efforts came at a press conference a few months ago, when he decided to address the foreign reporters’ questions in English. This included the possibly philosophical observation that “Everything is something happened”.
Which players are good interviewees and who are the worst?
Should he make the squad, Leyton-born Colin Kazim-Richards, now with Fenerbahce, will come up with some interesting story about his supposed gangsta roots in London. Midfielder Tümer Metin is always an honest interviewee who tries to say something other than cliches, which very few other Turkish players are able to do.
Are then any players with unusual hobbies or business interests?
Defender Servet Cetin likes to sing Turkish folk songs during team camps. Most Turkish players have brothers who open kebab houses which the player finances, effectively making them the partner. Hobbies rarely go any further than playing on the PlayStation and backgammon.
Will there be any rehearsed goal celebrations?
None at the moment. The classic celebration is running to the bench to hug the coach or kissing the substitute who had said before the game that the player would score.
Are there any players involved in politics?
None directly, but some are known to have certain affiliations. There are a number of Galatasaray players, most notably Hakan Sukur, who are followers of a neo-Islamic teacher, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Philadelphia as he is wanted in Turkey for conspiracy to overthrow the secular state. Galatasaray’s success in the 1990s, which culminated in their UEFA Cup triumph, was based around a number of players from conservative backgrounds in rural Anatolia. Club officials never made an issue of Sukur’s beliefs and the team struggled for a while when he left. Such players are unlikely to flourish at Fenerbahce, who have close ties to the military, which is ardently opposed to religious movements.
What will the media coverage be like?
The television coverage of the championship is likely to be poor as the rights were won by ATV, a privately owned channel that is closely linked to the conservative Islamist party currently in power. ATV has little experience of broadcasting top tournaments and currently hold no rights to broadcasting a domestic competition. Selçuk Yula, a former Fenerbahce striker in the 1980s, is among their pundits. He has a good understanding of the fabric of football, but he’s a huge Fener fan and it becomes way too apparent on some occasions. He’s likely to enter a confrontation with the channel’s other critic, Kazim Kanat, a Besiktas supporter whose comments in the past have bordered on anti-Serbian racism, when he criticised Fenerbahce’s purchase of Serbians while they already had Bosnian and Croatian players in the squad.