October 27, 2015

Former Galatasaray striker excluded from TRT program for political views

The state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) did not feature goals scored by Hakan Şükür, a retired striker for the Galatasaray football team and top goal scorer in the Turkish Super League, while airing memorable moments from past derbies between the Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray teams, the latest in a series of campaigns initiated against Şükür by government circles for his political views.

Before the derby commenced on Sunday evening, TRT aired replays from previous matches between the dueling soccer teams that have been strongly etched in the memories of football fans, along with memorable interviews with the players.

However, TRT did not broadcast goals scored by Şükür or interviews made with him after the derbies, despite the fact that he left a lasting impression on the minds of football fans as the top goal scorer in the history of Turkish football, with 249 goals.

Şükür has been targeted by many political circles close to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) since he unexpectedly resigned from his role as a deputy from the party on Dec. 16 due to government attempts to close down “dershanes,” private educational institutions that offer test-prep classes, some of which are affiliated with the faith-based Hizmet movement. He resigned just one day before a major bribery and corruption investigation went public, accompanied by police raids which implicated four government ministers, various state bureaucrats and some renowned businessmen with close ties to the government. Affiliates close to the AK Party have accused Şükür of being aligned with the Hizmet movement, an organization which the prime minister has accused of orchestrating the 2013 corruption probe in an effort to bring down his government.

Similarly, in April 2014, Şükür's name was removed from a stadium run by the Sancaktepe Municipality of İstanbul based on the decision of the municipality's board members.

Speaking to the Millet daily on Monday, Şükür said he has been subject to a government campaign and the institutions controlled by it.

“Unfortunately, I have come across similar situations recently. When I received the Golden Foot Legends award at Monaco it wasn't covered [by TRT]… [Turning] this public channel into the mouthpiece of a single political party and excluding the goals made by a player, who took part in the numerous glories [of the national football team] on a public channel is saddening.”

Previously in October, TRT also excluded replays of the goals scored by Şükür in their “Unforgettable National Matches” program which aired before the Turkish national football team's matches with the Czech Republic and Iceland.

Published on Today's Zaman, 26 October 2015, Monday