On the second anniversary of the Uludere Massacre where Turkish fighter jet bombs killed 34 Kurdish smugglers, Cinarli’s wrote: “Happy second anniversary of the Uludere incident. The dead mules were worthier than you”.
The referee later defended himself, saying he didn’t explicitly cite any ethnicity in his tweet.
“I defended an action taken by the Turkish Armed Forces. I criticized people who smuggle guns, shoot at soldiers. I do not bear hostility against any race.”
The comments were seen by critics as an example of a broader series of incidents in the country’s professional football world.
Previous incidents show little action against discrimination
A woman referee referred to as E.D. was criticised in 2008 by the Provincial Referee Board of Kocaeli for sharing a locker room with a male colleague.
Later, E.D. filed a case against the board for the comments, which sparked a campaign against her in the press. As a result, she was never again assigned to any matches, which made her career come to an end.
In February 2013, a match of the Women’s 2nd Division between Elazig Hedefspor and Diyarbakir Buyuksehir Belediyespor, in Elazig, the visiting team was attacked by the opposing team, the male referee, team officials and supporters. Seven out of the 11 people of the Diyarbakir Buyuksehir Belediyespor were hurt, including two who suffered broken legs.
The visiting team’s coach stated afterwards that they were insulted by the attackers for being women and Kurds.
Halil Ibrahim Dincdag, a football referee for 13 years, was fired from his job not only for being gay but also “outed”.
The TFF’s Central Referee Board banned Dincdag from the profession in 2009 due to a clause added to their charter four years before that: “Those who were excluded from military duty for health problems cannot be referees.”
Dincdag had indeed been excluded from the mandatory military service for being gay, but allegedly this happened because the military’s procedure gives gays the same report that is given to the disabled.
“One morning I woke up and saw I was in all the newspapers,” recalled the former referee.
“I became famous as the gay referee, what fame! My life changed in one day. I was without a job, money or friends.” He sued the TFF for damages; the 11th hearing of the ongoing trial will be held on March 4.
In addition and according to critics, referees from Eastern Turkey are considered “B-grade” at the federation, said to retired referee.
“[The federation] offers no justification for not assigning you to matches. Do not think of it as Turk-Kurd discrimination, because all of the referees from East are subhuman as far as the federation is concerned,” said Reha Bicici from Diyarbakır.
In 2008, Genclerbirligi coach Samet Aybaba was unhappy with the statements of his Egyptian player Abdel-Zaher El-Saqua to the press after a defeat and said: “They preferred an Arab over me.”
Mehmet Ali Yilmaz, former president of Trabzonspor, called Kevin Campbell, a black player of his then team, a “cannibal”. No sanction was issued by the league. Soon after, Campbell left the team and Turkey altogether.
Emre Belezoglu from Fenerbahce called Tranbzonspor player Didier Zokora a “dirty nigger” during a match the two teams played in 2012.