In Turkey, Supporters Groups are the real fans, and everyone else is just a spectator. Filmmakers Naz Gündogdu and Friedemann Pitschak have documented a life that Americans have not yet experienced: being a fan in the face of political oppression.
I’m not sure what the title AyakTakimi means: the Google translation could be rabble, riff-raff or low-life. Or it could also be “I am standing”. Certainly, standing the whole game is just a fraction of what Turkish supporters groups do. To be a true fan, you must stand, jump, sing, and paint flags in the middle of the night. Travel all night to an away game. But first above all, you must GO to a game. You cannot just watch on TV or tweet a hashtag when your team scores. You must be there and be part of the brotherhood (sisters are welcome).
The songs are passionate and sound very militaristic. Perhaps that is why, throughout football history, political uprisings, as well as para-military crushings of protests, have been orchestrated through supporters groups. In Turkey’s Geza Park protests of May 2013, multiple supporters groups laid down their rivalries to unite in protest against the government of Turkish president-cum-autocrat Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This is also well-covered in Istanbul United.
Fan suppression via Passolig
The size and anonymity of stadiums gives people the chance to gather and build community and momentum. Perhaps Erdogan was mindful of this. In April 2014, the top 2 leagues were required to use Passolig, a mandatory Fan ID Card system commonly known as the e-ticket. Promoted as making stadiums safer from hooligans, Passolig required ticket holders to provide name, address, photo, national identity number, and club. Users could only attend games for one club, and they were forced to create a debit account at a new bank owned by a member of Erdogan’s family.
In protest of Passolig, the supporters groups boycotted the games. Stadium attendance plummeted and sponsors dropped out. In the film, supporters have moved to the bars to watch their club on TV. It is sad and perhaps telling. E-commerce is being used to successfully stifle protesters, and thereby, democracy.
I tried searching for updates, and it looks like the situations in this film remain the same. For more info on the historical relationship between supporters groups and politics, read “How Soccer Explains the World”. We Must Go is another soccer movie that covers supporters groups and politics in the Middle East.
For Americans, there is much to learn from this documentary. We take our freedom for granted and as something we can protect by just going to the voting booth. Should the time come to fight back in America, I hope we will have leaders in this film like Ayhan Güner of Beşiktaş Çarşı.
Soccer and other sports
The soccer play consists of the supporters themselves playing in ÖzgürLig, the Free League. There is much more to this football film; the creators cover 8 clubs at various league levels, as well as some basketball. They also cover the Kurdish situation and the difficulties for Kurds playing in the Turkish leagues.
This is a first film from woman Director Naz, and both creators are only twenty-something. I’m looking forward to where their football passion takes them next.
9 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 9