Turkish Super Lig resumes after three-month suspension

Istanbul (AFP)

Turkey’s Super Lig resumed officially on Friday with two games played behind closed doors, after a nearly three-month suspension because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The first game was played in Istanbul between Fenerbahce and Kayserispor at 1800 GMT, and the other in western Turkey between Goztepe and Trabzonspor who are currently at the top of the championship.

Faces in the crowd: Cardboard cut outs with one picture of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (back-C), founder of modern Turkey, and photographs of medical staff in front of a banner reading on 'To all our medical staff with respect and gratitude' during the match between Fenerbahce SK and Kayserispor
Faces in the crowd: Cardboard cut outs with one picture of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (back-C), founder of modern Turkey, and photographs of medical staff in front of a banner reading on ‘To all our medical staff with respect and gratitude’ during the match between Fenerbahce SK and Kayserispor ERDEM SAHIN POOL/AFP

There were no supporters in Istanbul around the stadium or in the neighbouring bars, which are usually crowded on match nights.

The Turkish Football Federation announced the championship’s suspension on March 19 as coronavirus spread across the world.

The authorities have imposed a series of measures as games resume including taking the temperature of every individual entering the stadium, substitute players divided between the bench and empty stands, and regularly disinfecting the footballs.

Although the games will be played behind closed doors, the TFF appeared optimistic fans could return in the coming weeks “if the situation improves”.

The TFF hopes the Super Lig will end on July 26. In total, there are 72 league games left in addition to three Cup games.

Just four points separate the top four in the championship.

Turkish football was hit directly by the pandemic.

Galatasaray’s charismatic manager Fatih Terim and former international goalkeeper Rustu Recber, star of the 2002 World Cup, were taken to hospital but later recovered.

Last month, Istanbul giants Besiktas said their chairman and several staff tested positive for coronavirus.

Turkey has officially recorded over 175,000 infections while around 4,800 people have died since the first case was confirmed in March.

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