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Friday, 11 November 2011



A flow of Turkish tourists to Balkans is obvious in the last several years during “bayram” holidays. Tens of thousands of Turkish tourists flow to Balkans with reasonable tours. Since the bayram holidays are in Fall recently, the local tourism sector is happy with that, and since the prices are lower than in low season, the tours become more affordable. There are three basic routes: First one is Balkanic Danube, starting from Romania to Beograd. The second one is “Rumelija” tour, mostly involving Thessalonica through Bitola, Ohrid and Skopje. The thirds route starts from Montenegro and through amazing Adriatic coast, follows Dubrovnik and then reaches to Sarajevo following the route Pocitelj, Blagaj and Mostar. Last year, around 10.000 Turkish tourists followed that route and “occupied” Dubrovnik while there were no other tourist groups from other countries. That touristic “occupation” was referred frequently in Croatian newspapers being served with historical ironies.

My cousins involved in that touristic raid this year which made them to see Sarajevo for the first time. In November 8, Tuesday, around noon, when we were enjoying our coffees in Sarajevo’s Baščaršija, I saw Alen, an habitual Zeljeznicar fan. I do not see any problem to write his name in my blog since Alen is one of the most mediatic fans after giving an interview to documentary TV show “Frontline Football” in their episode for Bosnian – Serbian football match. (Here you can watch the documentary) If he is not the most mediatic one, surely he is the most athletic, can be always seen with his sport suits and sport bag.

I saw Alen with his sports bag and sports suit in Bascarsija. He asked me if I would attend to match in the evening.

It has been a long time that I was not interested in football matches in Bosnia since I submitted my dissertation. But, since some time, I began to follow matches again and surprisingly I did not have information about tonight’s match. There were no league matches because of the Bosnia-Portugal match and as far as I knew there were not cup matches as well. So, what was that match? Alen made it clear: At 18:00, Zeljeznicar and Bosnian national football team would play in Grbavica. It was both a part of 90th anniversary activities of Zeljeznicar, and a preparation match for the national squad.
The match took attention of my cousin, a hard core Boluspor fan, and we decided to be in the rows during the match.

Having walked the whole day, we were a quite a bit tired and we hardly left home. My cousin did not want to miss this opportunity to watch a game in Sarajevo, and the stadium was only 20 minutes walk from home. We dressed our Bosnia jerseys. It was not that much cold during the day, but Sarajevo becomes freezing when it gets dark. So, we wore some warm things as well. Luckily we did.

We bought the tickets for Grbavica Jug (South tribune of Grbavica) where TM87 stands. We were five minutes late for the match and we missed quite a lot during that 5 minutes. My cousin did not think that there would that amount of fans for a friendly game. Stadium was almost full. Of course, Grbavica Stadium’s location being in the middle of settlements is quite a lot effective as seen in the photo, but we should not underestimate the fever of Zeljo fans as well. (Photo:

When we entered the stadium, the cartons of the chorographical show and the mist from the flambeauxes were still dominating the scene of the stadium. When we looked at the scoreboard, we have realized that we even missed the early goal of Vedad İbisevic. Since there were not any seat on Jug, we began to watch the match on the bottom steps of stairs in the centre of Jug tribune. Some fans, whom I knew before told me the story how they swore on Medjunjanin during the match between Zeljo and Maccabi. (See: Zeljo - Maccabi)

Match was a real “friendly” game literally. Bosnia found the second goal again by İbisevic at 38th, and Zeljo had a quick reply on 40th by Beslija. In the half time, we began to look for somewhere to sit, as the place where we were standing was just under the place where the fanatics were cheering, which forced us to use our caps to protect ourselves from that “rain” from the mouths.

The second half was more like a struggle of tactics. Bosnia found many more position especially with Edin Dzeko, but could not manage to score. This is the most enjoyable part of Bosnian football. The midfield is usually very offensive and can find a lot of scoring positions. The center of the midfield is usually unused. In that sense, the match was quite enjoyable to watch. Even more enjoyable for my cousin, since it was not forbidden yet to smoke in stadiums in Bosnia. (It is forbidden in Turkey)

Bosnian nationals were not very ambitious in the second half, probably reserving their energy for Portugal match. Zeljo seemed to be more lively but there is no doubt about the difference between Zeljo and Bosnian national team in terms of quality of football. Despite there were no goals in the second half, we watched a nice match. Cross passes, even cross long passes were really amazing, as well as gentle ankle tackles and of course Yugoslav fault.

I never understand those who hate Yugoslav fault, which can be regarded as a security valve of offensive game that allows a team to attack without a fear of leaving empty space at the defense line. The only thing to avoid Yugoslav fault is that you have to arrange an offensive tactic as well. Sooner you pass the ball, lesser the opportunity to be subject to Yugoslav fault. Of course, to pass the ball, your offensive players should be ready in offense. So, if you will imprison eleven of your players in your half of field, you will be probably subject to Yugoslav fault before passing the ball. Of course, those players with higher technical capacity to escapee from tackles are really the most beautiful part of the game as well.

For almost 85 minutes, the fans have cheered for Zeljo, not Bosnian national squad. I did not expect something different. But, at least in the last five minutes, they did not forget their national teams...

Thursday, 10 November 2011


In fact, not only for Ronaldo, but it will be a hard game for Portugal as well. The matches which will be played on 11th and 15th November will be the revenge of play-off games of World Cup that was played two years ago. During those two years, Bosnia had drastically improved her football. The Bosnian players from diaspora are now a perfect team since they have been playing together for almost five years. Moreover, Portugal is not the same Portugal.

The match will again be in Zenica’s Bilino Polje. It is well known why the match will not be played in Sarajevo, but in Zenica. The tribunes in Bilino Polje are closer to the pitch and Zenica’s football fans are famous of their fever. It will be a difficult match for Portugal in Zenica. I do not think that it will be much easier in Lisboa. Since Portugal and Bosnia are seeded BH Fanaticos, the fan organization of Bosnia is working hard to attract as many fans as possible. There will be a flow of Bosnian fans who are living in different European countries. Moreover, it is expected that a considerable number of fans from Bosnia will be mobilised as well. The tourism offices are quite a lot effective.

Probably the match will be extra difficult for Ronaldo. The Portugal national team was welcome by Bosnian fans on Thursday, November 10 in Sarajevo Airport. What a welcome... Ronaldo was quite cool when the Bosnian fans were cheering for Messi. In fact, we had the illusion that he was cool. However, it is witnessed that he was not that much cold blooded during today’s training in Zenica. As seen from the photo, Ronaldo’s reaction against the Bosnian fans who were teasing him is apparent. (Photo: J. Hadzic, Dnevni Avaz)

Those who are familiar with the football culture in balkans, especially in Bosnia respectively would know that a reaction of a player against fans is not good for himself. It is an invitation for more acts. Not even only for the fans, but probably the players on the pitch will do their best to destroy the nerves of world star player, which will make us to see the limit of professionality of Ronaldo.

Saturday, 22 October 2011


Three years ago, I have written an article expressing my wish about Turkey and Bosnia be not in the same qualification group. It did not happen for the qualifications of European Football Championship 2012. However, when Bosnia had a draw match with France in Paris, and Germany’s victory against Belgium allowed Turkey to have right for play-off, I have to admit that I was a bit afraid of a possible Bosnia-Turkey play-off match. Luckily both countries were in the same pot. In sum, Turkey eluded from playing with Bosnia among the heat of a play-off struggle where the adrenalin level would be at the top. Better to say, I was eluded from that.

I am lucky in another sense that Turkey will be playing with another Balkan country, if not with Bosnia. Of course, when Turkey was tied with Croatia, two historical matches fell into my mind. When Turkey had the first chance to play in European Football Championship in 1996, the first match was with Croatia and lost. Probably, the most interesting anecdote from that match was the “fair play” of Alpay, Turkish defender. Alpay is recognized as one of the most aggressive players in Turkey. But, maybe it was for the first time in his life he decided to play clean and instead of tackling Croatian striker Vlaović, he preferred to escort him until he scored. That made Alpay to be gain “Fair-play” award.

This match had been cleaned from the memories of Turkish football fans since some time. The quarterfinal match between Croatia and Turkey in Wien in June 20, 2008 is capable to many more football matches. Even UEFA web masters are aware of it that when Turkey and Croatia were seeded that legendary match was referred. The first match will be by November 11/12 in Turkey and the second match will be on November 15 in Croatia, than the one who will have ticket for Poland and Ukraine will be determined.

Four years ago, a friendly match between Bosnia and Croatia was played in Sarajevo in a Summer night in August 2007 when the visitor team had a victory of 5-3. It is a question mark, if it could be identified as a “friendly” match since violent fights ocured before and during the match. Bosnian fans were teasing Croatian fans by transforming The Beatles’ famous song “Yellow Submarine”s reprise part; “”We all live in yellow submarine” as “Zagreb će biti Turska mahala”.literally meaning “Zagreb will be Turkish mahala” (district in Turkish language). Even the hard core Turkish nationalists would not express like that, at least that much directly! I had written an article about it.

I have asked from my Bosnian friends not to involve us (Turks) into the Balkan trouble. However, it seems it is a bit difficult to realize that. Indeed, after the legendary match between Turkey and Croatia in June 20, 2008 there were violent incidents in many places in Bosnia, which is not surprising while similar incidents happen even after a match of Croatia and Brazil. Despite I would avoid any generalizations, it is very frequent that Bosnian Croats do have a special love for Croatia. Since Bosnians (Bosnian Muslims) are not happy for that they enjoy to support any rival of Croatia. Especially when the rival team is Turkey.

Probably, this year similar incidents will not happen, since Bosnians will be very much occupied with the matches against Portugal.

After the seeding in UEFA, I had a look at Turkish newspapers. Our very talented journalists were very proud to write that Croats were extremely sad because of a seeding with Turkey. I had already checked well known Croatian newspapers like Slobodna Dalmacija or Dnevnik just after the seeding and I remember I read totally different comments. I looked at the comments in Croatian newspapers to be sure. I was true! The commentators were not afraid, but on the contrary they were almost happy to be seeded with Turkey and Croatian newspapers were full of revenge skirls.

Really a big mistake! If I were them, I would write about unluckiness of Croatian national football team because of being seeded with Turkey. As well known, Turks are a nation who enjoys very much to be slapped on the back. Those who are aware of it do prefer to soften the beard with cream instead of confronting Turkey and injecting adrenalin. The Croatian newspapers were captioned with “revenge” wishes of Bilić. However, when I started to write sub-lines, I have realized that Croatian journalists do have that special talency of transforming reality into a fiction, like their Turkish colleagues.


As a matter of fact, Bilić underlined the chance of a revenge against Turkey as it is reflected on the headlines of the Croatian newspapers. However, there are more things that he had emphasized. Bilić who had mentioned that playing against Turkey or Bosnia would not be preferable for him, had told to newspapers:

“No doubt that our rival is strong.” Smashing his fist on the desk, he continued: “They are strong but not more than us. Turks are also very ambitious to play in EURO 2012. They have very good players and they have one of the best trainers in the world. I believe in my players. I have been waiting and dreaming for this moment for four years. We have a wonderful opportunity to take revenge of Wien.”

What took my attention the most is his comment about Hiddink. Bilić takes Hiddink very seriously, probably without being informed that the world famous trainer who succeeded with many teams is de facto part-time trainer of Turkish national team. Moreover, he emphasized on players like Arda, Selçuk and Mehmet Topal.


Croatian journalists are simply not pleasant about statements of Bilić. Some claim Bilić as being cowards, some claim that he overemphasize the rival. Croatian media, on the other hand is quite gorgeous. Daily newspaper Dnevnik’s last word about the seeding is like that:

Means: “Give us Turks! Here it is. Now or never!

Somehow, it is quite difficult to forget about the role of journalists in Yugoslav wars.

Croatians see it as an advantage that they will play the second match at home. According to them, playing the second match not in “Istanbul Hell” is an advantage.

Trabzonspor’s ex-player Vugrinec gave an interview to Jutarnji List relying on his three years long experience in that Black Sea coast of Turkey. He is mentioning about the fanatism of the Turkish football fans.

What we can predict from those sentences is that, Croatian media is hoping to come to Zagreb with least damage from Turkey.

Probably, the match will be played in Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, which is recognized as the place where the Yugoslav wars started. The match between Red Star and Dinamo Zagreb in May 1991 is depicted as the place where the warfare was sparkled.

On the other side, Split, home place of Hajduk Split, famous with football fanatics is also candidate to host the game.

Personally, instead of having a journey to Habsburg styled Zagreb in freezing November, I would prefer to pay a visit to Split on the Mediterranean coast.

Sunday, 2 October 2011


According to the statistics, in 2009 there were 126 million blogs on world wide web. (See: Internet 2009 in numbers) Probably, it should already have exceeded 200 million by mid-2011. One of the biggest problems about blogs is that “they die”. Those which are activated with great hopes and fun, fade away, or better to say they enter into vegetative state after a while because of not being updated. This blog was launched in November 2007. Somehow, I was trying to update the blog by adding one article per month, but since 2008, that is for three years I could only add one article.

In this context, Bosnian Football Culture is a good example for how a blog may fade away. However, in the last couple of months, this issue began to annoy me. Maybe you will not believe but there are people who follow this blog about “Bosnian Football”, there are those who mentioned that they are waiting for new articles. For a long while, when I was faced with the question; “Will you add any new articles?”, my reply was; “Yes. I could not find time since I have been busy. I know I neglected the blog, but I will add new articles as soon as possible.” That sort of lies even began to disturb me, myself. Frankly speaking, I have to admit that
When you search for “football culture” in Google, one of the first five web sites appear is my blog. Frankly, this is also one of the factors which encourages me to update the blog. Indeed, it appears in the second page now but I do not have any rival when you will search for “Bosnian football culture.” There is no other lunatic who would wrap his mind about that issue.

Nowadays, there are no deadlines waiting for me. After 6 long years, It has been the first time that I do not have a deadline in my. I know that it will not be that long. So, I prefer to enjoy this. I want to deal with some joyful things which I could not have time for them before. As I have mentioned, since I wrote the article titled; “Let Turkey not be in the same Group with Bosnia Again” in October 2009, this blog was left orphan by me. Indeed, I have really very good reasons: I was in navy for 6 months for compulsory military service, I had the title of assistant professorship, I got married, and now I have got a son! Enough? In the meantime, I have to confess that visiting Istanbul every week for a time period of almost one and a half year was really exhausting while I was giving lectures in a university in Istanbul. I better not to pull out all the pathetic stop. In fact, there was only one reason why I could not write anything new in my blog: I WAS BORED!

One of the most frequent forms of post-dissertation traumas is the feeling of alienation for the thesis subject. Frankly, not only because football was the subject of thesis, but also because of the latest incidents forced me to keep my mental health protected from the world of football. Gençlerbirliği, my team, do really sucks in Turkish Super League. The latest incidents about corruption in Turkish football is also obvious. In addition to that, my performance of being a goal keeper in 6-a-side matches is the worst of all times. The fact that I am playing as a goal keeper is because I am always the worst player, is also another issue that has to be kept in mind!

During last season, I watched Sarajevo derby in Grbavica which motivated me for a while to write something for the blog. But, this motivation was only for a few seconds. Something happened two months ago. The other Gençlerbirliği fan in Sarajevo; Erdoğan called me.

On Wednesday Željezničar was to play against Maccabi Tel Aviv, for UEFA Europa League Third Qualification Round. We decided to go to match. After that match, I have realized that it was the perfect time to add something new to this blog.

Almost for a week, it has been rainy or cloudy in Sarajevo. The game will not be played in Grbavica – Željezničar’s stadium, but will be in Koševo. Probably, Grbavica did not abide UEFA criteria. Since Koševo does not have covered grandstand, I kept an eye on the clouds during the whole day. Neither it rained, nor there was any single sign from the clouds that it would be raining. The weather was nice and a long-sleeved t-shirt would be enough to be warm.

My actual knowledge about Željo’s current squad was almost on “zero” level. I just know that they were on third place in Bosnian Premier League last season. I always used to find excuse by claiming: “Do not ask me about the football teams, nor about the players. I am not watching the game. I watching those, who watch the game.” However, I shall say that I could not recognize the fans as well. My field work had finished by February 2008 and the time period of 3,5 years since then is a reasonable time for a new generation of fans would appear and the oldies to marry, have jobs, and have families and have less time for football.

I did not understand why northern (Sjever) and western (Zapad) stands were not opened. The fans were only on southern (Jug) curve and eastern (Istok) stand which is on the side of the hospital. Of course, only the VIP section of western stand was open as well. TM87 (aka “The Maniacs” – I do not prefer to call anybody or any group addressing like that, and I prefer TM87, abbreviation for “The Maniacs 1987”) was located on southern curve by their nature. I use the term “by their nature” because of two reasons: First, TM87’s location in Grbavica is also on “Jug”. Secondly, Kosevo’s Jug is always reserved for guest fans. One can argue that the western curve belongs to Željo fans more than Sarajevo fans.

Unfortunately, I do not have any photos from the match. After years when I went to a football match with the wish to add something for my blog, I took my notebook, but forgot my pen, I took my camera, but forgot to take charged batteries. A failure which should not be made by an anthropologist who goes to “field” with more than three pens, controls the batteries, moreover, takes extra batteries with the possibility to struggle with the security guys about extra batteries in the bag. I promise that in the next article –which I hope it will be earlier than 3,5 years- you will see visual material. For some photos, you can visit Željezničar’s web site.

Jug was totally full. There were no empty chairs on the corners. Istok was almost full as well. I can say that there were more or less 17-18.000 spectators. As a habitual outcome of being denizen of Ankara 19 Mayıs Stadium, we seated align half-way line. So to say; the family part. The stands for those married with children spectators. Giving importance on Gençlerbirliği fandom traditions, we began to enjoy our sunflower seeds. We even contributed to some chants. Surely we chatted a lot about teams, players, referee as well.

I have been more than 60 games in Bosnia. Almost during all of those games, I have been hanging around the stands among the fans, with a camera and a note-book in my hands. Slowly but surely I began to quit that habit of mine, and instead of watching those who watch the match, I try to watch the match itself. Honestly, I even began to enjoy football again after a long time. Of course, the rapid nature of the game has got influence on it as well. From the early beginning of the match Željo was playing impressively offensive. Every second they seized the ball, they were attacking. A nice game to watch, however Željo was like a “bee unable to produce honey”.

The match statistics are that of which could make a Championship/Football Manager fan into mad. According to the statistics from UEFA’s website, Željo has 10 goal attempts, where as Maccabi has 7. But ball is round. Maccabi was the victorious side at the end of the game. Željo was absolutely dominant in the first half. Nevertheless, they could not find the goal. Željo players, especially Zajko Zeba, the most expensive player in Bosnian leagues (650.000 Euro) were not able to roll the ball into the net. Since Maccabi players saw that Željo was inefficient in using the free-kicks, they did not hesitate to foul Željo players. I have to admit that the Swedish referee who were not willing to show red card from the second yellow was effective in determining that strategy as well. The name of the one of the Swedish referees was Mehmet Culum, an absolutely Turkish name. Probably the shorter linesman was him. He was just in front of us and the whole match I waited for him to verdict improperly to tease him in Turkish language, but he simply did not give me this opportunity.

During the game they announced that FK Sarajevo was losing the game against Sparta Prague in away match. The Željo fans on “Jug” exhibited their bliss, while no one reacted positively or negatively on Istok.

Since Željo, despite playing very offensive game, could not score, there were two alternative scenarios for the second half: Željo would find a solution to score one goal, or Maccabi would benefit from fast counter-attacks. The second alternative came about. Maccabi’s trainer Motti Ivanir should have well analyzed Željo’s weaker points. Roberto Colautti, Argentinian player of Maccabi, who has been injured for long time, thus weak in one-to-one struggles, but quite rapid in counter-attacks started in the eleven in the second half. He scored on min.47 and 56. He was probably noticed a bit lately by Željo defense. When Željo defense began to keep eye on him seriously, it was the time for Colautti to have a peaceful time until the end of the match without any serous attempts, surely with peace in his heart of having done his job perfectly. Maccabi’s Bosnian player Haris Međunjanin, who played quite ambitious against a team from his homeland took attention of Bosnian fans. Bosnian fans not only sweared to his mother, but also to his sister, which is not very common in Bosnia.

We personally were more or less enthusiasted about Montenegrin origin Serbian right winger Goran Marković’s style despite his passing was not brilliant, but not bad in tackling. Marković is new to the team. Probably he would be better in passing when he will get used to play with the same squad. Another new player, Liberian origin Swiss player Patrick Gerhardt Nyema took our attention with his pace, but he needs some more experience in Bosnia to be an important player in Željo.

While I was expecting Maccabi to score the third, even the fourth goals, Željo began to recover a bit, trying different ways to score. Unfortunately, they do not have that much talented scorers in the squad. I was surprised that none of the Željo players tried shooting from long distance despite Maccabi’s goal-keeper seemed not good on long-shots. The result was clear: 0-2...