Iceland denies disrespectful treatment to Turkish national team at airport

Updates with ISAVIA's statement in paragraphs 9 and 10.

An Icelandic official denied reports that Turkey's national football team on Sunday was kept waiting for hours at Iceland’s main airport, Sözcü newspaper reported.

The team landed at Keflavik Airport, the main hub for the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, on Sunday evening for a Euro 2020 qualifying match against the Icelandic national team to be played on Tuesday night.

The team was then held by Icelandic authorities for some three hours as their luggage was searched, while the team's captain was approached by a man who held a toilet brush to his face as a makeshift microphone, reported Turkish state broadcaster TRT. The players said airport officials gave no reason for the delay.

Turkish authorities on Monday issued a diplomatic note to Iceland condemning the country's maltreatment of its national football team players, state-run Anadolu Agency said. 

Vidir Reynisson, who, according to Turkish media is the security chief of Iceland Football Federation, said that Turkish players had exaggerated the incident and they had reached their hotel two hours after their plane landed at Keflavik airport, Sözcü said. 

“When we came to Turkey, we also passed security check, their checks were the same as ours. In my opinion, nothing seems abnormal, Sözcü quoted Reynisson as saying. 

"What they have done is disrespectful and rude. We have been waiting here for three hours. They took everyone's bags and even everyone's cosmetics. They searched it again and again. We flew for 6.5 hours and we've waited for three hours," said team vice captain Burak Yılmaz on Sunday night.

Turkish journalist Metin Cihan shared on Twitter actual flight information showing that the flight duration was five hours and 37 minutes and Yılmaz made this statement only one hour after the plane landed Keflavik. 

Iceland's airport operator, ISAVIA, said on Monday that the inspections were mandatory for arrivals from outside the remit of agreements with the European Union. ISAVIA also said that, while the team had waited longer than usual to clear security due to a lack of cooperation, the players had spent only 80 minutes at Keflavik Airport, not three hours as had been claimed. 

"Requests to remove electronics and liquid were not entirely met," the operator said in a statement.

On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu denounced Iceland's treatment of the Turkish team.

"The treatment our national team was subjected to at Iceland's airport is unacceptable, both in terms of humanity and diplomatic practices. Let there be no doubt that we will do what is necessary," Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter.

Milli Takımımızın İzlanda havaalanında maruz kaldığı muamele diplomatik teamüller bakımından da insani bakımdan da kabul edilemez. Gereğini yapacağımızdan milletimizin şüphesi olmasın. 🇹🇷 @TFF_Org @MilliTakimlar

— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) 10 Haziran 2019

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party spokesman Ömer Çelik said on Twitter that Iceland's authorities must apologise for "this primitive treatment."

Following the incident, journalist Nevşin Mengü on Twitter said, besides expressing her criticism, that the reason for keeping footballers waiting at the airport was the departure from an unrecognised airport in the central Anatolian city of Konya. 

"It is necessary to be more careful when organising such trips. If there is a rule, the rule must be obeyed, by breaking the rules, by making a fait accompli, we end up being wrong when we are right," Mengü said. 

The report on Iceland’s treatment to Turkish national football team created an outrage on social media, with many Turkish users sending insulting messages to some sports journalists from Iceland which they thought were responsible of the incident. 

Magnús Már Einarsson, a football reporter, was targeted first by Turkish football fans. “Dear Turkish fans! I was NOT at the airport in Iceland today and I would NEVER pretend to take a interview with a brush. I don't know who the guy with the brush is, he is a tourist. I have so much respect for your great team and also for Emre who has had a great career,” the journalist said after  receiving numerous mentions on Twitter. 

“The idiot with the brush is NOT me. I have nothing but respect for your players and your great nation,” said Benedikt Gretarsson, who received messages accusing him of the toilet brush incident.  

Ahmet Altay Cengizer, the Permanent Turkish Ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said Turkey should respond to Iceland by opposing the destruction the Nordic country caused on nature.

“Icelanders for decades have not been held accountable for the whales they have slaughtered, how they cut those magnificent creatures of nature alive, now they should be held accountable! Their arrogance and richness, which has turned into rudeness, comes from this massacre on nature,” he said on Twitter. 

Turkey’s top food critic Vedat Milör also had a suggestion about possible ways to retaliate Iceland.  “You can start lynching Iceland starting from its poor national cousin,” he said on Twitter.