Turkey and Soccer
Turkey and Football

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.

Istanbul fast became the focal point for a burgeoning Turkish football fever, and the city’s “second” side, Fenerbahçe SK, came into being shortly after their cross-town neighbors Galatasaray in 1907.

Following the end of the Ottoman Empire and its restrictive policies, the Turks established a national football federation (TFF) in 1923 to forge the way for a brave future, but Turkey’s rise would take time.

National Turkish Team for 2002 World Cup

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.

Turkish team trainning for the world cup 2002

Fenerbahçe SK won the first modern national tournament in 1959, and Galatasaray were not far behind in 1963, winning the inaugural Turkish Cup competition.

With the emergence of a professional, competitive domestic league, the Turkish national side began to gain a head of steam. The nation struggled to gain a foothold among Europe’s great powers, but in recent years the Turkish national side has become a force to be reckoned with.

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

More information about Turkish soccer:
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Turkish Fan - Everything began with Turkish Soccer game
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Turkish Fan - Turkish Soccer Fan

Date: June 9th, 2002
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