Sepp’s pledge | He won’t act ‘as a Swiss’ post-Istanbul

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Banners welcomed the Swiss guests to h-e-double hockey sticks. Link to International Herald Tribune account.Istanbul | Having scaled heights in the esteem of world football, Turkey perhaps made a serious misstep Wednesday given post-game violence directed against the native country of the FIFA president. Sepp Blatter promised an inquiry into the mêlée that hospitalized Swiss defender Stéphane Grichting following a wild 4–2 Turkish victory that nevertheless delivered a World Cup finals spot for Switzerland. Blatter said he would not act “as a Swiss,” but that “we will act and we will act tough.” Most incendiary was the suggestion that Turkey might be expelled from the 2010 competition—this for a team that reached the semifinals in 2002 and that, according to Rob Hughes in the International Herald Tribune, had convinced some with its hosting of the Champions League final in May that violence and Turkish football were not conjoined.

Rather than $120 million Atatí¼rk Olympic Stadium, the venue for the qualifier, Sí¼krí¼ Saracoglu, was selected for its intimidating reputation as the home ground of Fenerbahçe. Another subtext for Wednesday’s events was Turkey’s pursuit of membership in the European Union, for which safely organizing sporting events can prove readiness. One wonders if FIFA will extend the inquiry to the troubling charge of Swiss coach Kobi Kuhn, who claimed to see Turkish police attacking television crews to prevent them filming the violence.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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