Jun 29 2018

Turkish football needs an overhaul – commentator

Turkey’s failure to qualify for the World Cup this year was the result of structural and institutionalised short-termism that is damaging the game throughout the country, football-focused commentator Patrick Keddie wrote in Foreign Policy magazine.

“There is little in the way of long-term strategic planning or a coherent sports policy to nurture talent,” Keddie said.

“Beyond the armada of shiny, prestigious new soccer stadiums — whose capacities tend to vastly exceed their attendances — there is relatively little investment and planning in youth academies or the grassroots game.”

Many of the Turkish team’s best players are Turkish-origin players raised in Europe, Keddie said, because there is so little local capacity for player development.

“In Turkey, however, you rarely see anyone even playing the sport. Green or open spaces — never mind proper soccer fields — are shockingly scarce in major cities,” he said.

“Turkey has one of the lowest numbers of professional and semi-professional athletes in Europe, although the numbers are increasing,” he said

Football facilities in Turkish urban areas are usually rented astro-turf five-a-side pitches, which are fine for those who can afford to rent them but which sideline ambitious young sportsmen and women who cannot.