Yeşil Kirmizi (2016) – The many ways Turks can oppress a club

Yeşil Kirmizi or The Red Green (2016)

The title Yeşil Kirmizi refers to green and red, the colors of Amedspor, a Kurdish team that in 2016 played in the third division of Turkish football. To Americans, that sentence sounds harmless, but in Turkey, four of those words could be inflammatory. To strongman Erdogan’s Turkish government, professing Kurdish ethnic identity is tantamount to treason and the support of terrorism. 

Red -green-yellow are the colors of the flag of the PKK (Party Karkeren Kurdistan), the militant Kurdish separatist group. The Kurdish language is essentially outlawed; rather than even use the word, nationalist Turks will sometimes refer to Kurds as the Others. So when the club adopted a Kurdish name in 2014, its players and club officials became subject to fines, ethnic abuse, and violence on and off the pitch. Amed was the ancient Kurdish name for the eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, which sponsors the team.

In the film, Writer-Director Ersin Kana follows the team during its successful 2015-2016 run in the Turkish Cup. It advances to the quarter-finals versus the giant Fenerbahçe (of which Erdogan is a fan). But the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) throws many obstacles in the path of the Kurdish club. They ban Amedspor fans from games, suspend a star player, and do not punish violence by opposing fans. The TFF does not even punish an attack on club executives in the stands, even though it is captured on video.

In addition to levying multiple fines on the Amedspor, the TFF also deducts league points for displaying a banner protesting the bombing of Kurdish children. The deduction ensures that the team will not get promoted. 

“Children should not die, but come to the match” – a slogan accused of terrorist propaganda.

The film is well done and has many interviews of players and administrators who convey their frustration at the unfair situation. There are implications that the government and/or the TFF are fanning the fan violence against the club. 

A weakness of the film is that quite a few of the issues are not explicitly explained. I had to read articles by Steve Sweeney and Nurcan Baysal to understand the background of the conflict. I provided some of their key points above so that you can watch this film with a little more clarity.

This is an important film that increases your understanding of how football is used in Turkey for bad purposes by the government (see also Ayaktakimi). To see how football in Turkey has been used for good purposes by the people, watch Istanbul United.

For other films showing how racism is expressed through football, see Forever Pure and The People of Nejmeh. For a revealing documentary on the Kurds fighting back for the PKK, watch the 2017 film Bakur North on Amazon Prime.

As far as soccer, the film has a lot of footage from games and captures the passion of the fans as well as the violence on and off the pitch. 

On sad notes, team captain Sehmus Özer died at the end of 2016 in a car accident. Deniz Naki, whose tattoos, wrist bands, and social media got him fined and suspended, ended up returning to Germany, where in Jan-2018, an attempt was made on his life.

In Turkish and Kurdish with English sub-titles.

The original title is Yeşil Kirmizi, and is also known as The Red Green or Green Red.

7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7