April 28, 2016

Galatasaray errs on side of political caution ending kit sponsorship with Dumankaya

Mark Baber

The board of one of Turkey’s biggest clubs – Galatasaray FC – have terminated their kit sponsorship deal with Dumankaya Construction for seemingly pro-Erdogan government reasons. The company’s owners have been listed as suspected of having provided charitable donations to the moderate Islamic, US-based, Gülen Movement.

Galatasaray had signed a three year deal with Dumankaya in October 2015 worth 30 million Turkish lira ($10.6 million) in a deal the club had hailed as being “beneficial for both sides of the cooperation.”

But now, in Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian political climate, where conspiracy theories about Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s enemies abound, the mere suspicion a sponsor’s directors could be involved in helping one of the designated enemies of the state, seems sufficient to bring a commercial deal to an end.

The English-language Daily Sabah, which is staunchly pro-Erdogan, reported: “As part of the ongoing investigation by Istanbul’s Anatolian Side Public Prosecutor’s Office into allegations of providing financial support to the alleged Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ)/Parallel State Structure, Dumankaya İnşaat’s owners have been listed among the suspects. It has been suggested that managers told Galatasaray Football Club President Dursun Özbek that the club should part ways with the kit sponsor firm, and Özbek later started the process of removing the sponsor.”

The Gülen Movement, which is primarily an educational one with a presence in many countries around the world, was initially supportive of Erdogan’s AKP, but after seeking to expose financial corruption in the government has increasingly been persecuted, with as many as 2,261 individuals being arrested as being suspected as being part of the movement including businessmen, doctors, teacher, academics and police officers.

As the US State Department stated in its 2015 Country Report on Turkey, “prosecutions of journalists, judges, prosecutors, and police for membership of an alleged ‘Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization’ were ongoing at time of writing, although there is no evidence to date that the Gülen movement has engaged in violence or other activities that could reasonably be described as terrorism.” And “The AKP government in 2015 continued efforts to purge the police and judiciary of alleged supporters of the Gülen movement. During 2015, prosecutors, judges, and police officers with perceived links to the Gülen movement were jailed and charged with plotting against the government and membership of a terrorist organization. The main evidence being cited against judges and prosecutors at time of writing was decisions taken in the course of their professional duties rather than any evidence of criminal activity.”

Published on Inside World Football, 28 April 2016, Thursday