The Turkish Football Federation has come up with a new way to punish soccer hooligans: ladies’ night.
Typically, when fans get out of hand and start fights, the league bans all fans from the stadium for the next match or two, forcing their teams to play without an audience.
After Fenerbahce fans recently stormed the pitch during a pre-season friendly against Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk, however, the TFF decided that it would amend its policy to only ban adult men from the stands when hooligans misbehave.
The first match to be played in front of a women-and-children-only crowd took place last Tuesday.
To ensure the stands were packed, Fenerbahce distributed 27,000 free tickets for the home game between Istanbul-based Fenerbahce, the reigning league champion, and Manisaspor, Der Spiegel reports. Some 41,000 women, girls and boys under age 12 turned out for the match, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
According to Der Spiegel:
There were ID checks to ensure the male fans weren't too old, and supporters were searched before the game by an all-women police squad. Turkish media reported, however, that at least one man, disguised under a headscarf and women's clothing, made it in to the stadium.
"We have to thank the ladies for coming to support us," Fenerbahce defender Joseph Yobo, said, according to the Guardian. "It's difficult to play without fans."
The media noted some differences between the majority female audience and the usual male-dominated crowd.
According to The Associated Press:
The women certainly changed the tone at 50,000-seat Sukru Saracoglu Stadium, greeting the visiting Manisaspor team with applause rather than the usual jeers.
Even the players from both teams got involved, tossing flowers to the crowd before the match.
However, "the same anthems and the same chants as usual were sung," Yasemin Mercil, a female member of Fenerbahce's executive board, told the Guardian. "The women knew all the words."
Fenerbahce will play its next game in front of women and children, too, and this Wednesday, men are banned from four Süper Lig matches, Der Spiegel reports.