British residents first introduced their Turkish hosts to a loosely organized version of the modern game in the late 19th century. Turkish youth, students in particular, took to the new game with enthusiasm, and over the course of the 20th century, a highly intense and individualistic footballing culture and community slowly emerged.
The game was initially viewed as a subversive distraction by the authorities, a foreign cultural intrusion. Before the turn of the century, a group of students at Galatasaray High School sat down and formed an official football club. The club later became UEFA Cup winners and European powers Galatasaray SK.
The Turkish football league did not adopt a standard format until the early 1950s. Prior to this, the national champions were decided by way of a straight elimination tournament comprised of a handful of regional club champions.
In 1952, Turkey joined the ranks of a growing number of nations with professional football leagues. With the advent of professionalism, Turkish football eventually adopted a format similar to her western neighbors - a league system like the one that is most common in the world today.
Turkey made her international debut at the 1954 FIFA World Cup Switzerland They managed to defeat Korea 7-0 before losing out to West Germany in a group play-off for a quick trip home.
The Turks are enjoying something of a footballing renaissance now after qualifying for each of the last two UEFA European Championships and reaching the quarterfinals of the competition in 2000. Also in 2000, Galatasaray defeated English giants Arsenal in the final of the UEFA Cup, in what may have been a warning to the rest of the world of a new class of Turkish football.
Turkey are now looking to leave their mark on the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan.
Article extracted from FIFA
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Date: June 9th, 2002
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