Sometimes it is great when you seen sports administrators think a little outside of the box and turn a positive into a negative.
Turkey as any football fan will know is a veritable hotbed when it comes to feral football fans and the atmosphere in their grounds can be more than a little intimidating. Things can also get a little heated when certain teams are not performing as expected.
At Fenerbahce, that passion spilled over into acrimony earlier in the year, and as a result the home club was ordered to play two matches behind closed doors after their supporters invaded the pitch during a ‘friendly’ against Shakhtar Donetsk, from the Ukraine.
No club or administrator likes to see empty stadia, and this is where the Turkish authorities tweaked the rules, whereby only the men were banned.
Women and children under 12 flocked to the game and the atmosphere was transformed. The result was a 1-1 draw with Maniaspor, but the atmosphere inside the ground was apparently transformed. It was no doubt similar to attending a Spice Girls or Justin Bieber concert in terms of pitch. The players have stated it was a welcome change being applauded rather than jeered. A great gesture from the players was the throwing of flowers, by both teams into the adoring female throng.
This was a massive move by the Turkish authorities as their country is still one where the male dominates society. That is one of the reasons why their games are full of such testosterone fuelled invective. This gesture extends far beyond politics. Do not forget that Turkey shares a border with Iran, where women are known to have been attacked by police in Tehran for attempting to watch football.
This gesture has struck a blow for female fans in a region where their interest in the game is very much frowned upon. Hopefully this ‘bending of the rules’ will result in breaking down those barriers for women and they too can enjoy the beautiful game.