Turkish sports and politics converged as Istanbul’s soccer fans took to the streets to protest a new e-ticketing system. They see it as another example of the government’s crony capitalism, increased surveillance, and attempts to curtail freedom of expression. Bloomberg reports:
Starting this weekend, soccer fans must buy a so-called Passolig card from investment bank Aktif Yatirim Bankasi AS, owned by Calik Holding AS, which until December was run by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law. Fans will pay between $7-$12 for the card, and a fee of $1 for every ticket. […]The stadium cards will require fans to provide Aktif with their personal information as well as seat numbers, allowing the government to track fans chanting slogans and ban them from stadiums, according to Sezgin Tanrikulu, deputy head of the main opposition party CHP.
The fans of Istanbul’s three big soccer clubs were a prominent presence during the anti-government protests that engulfed Turkey last year. Anti-government chants became routine during league games, and many think the new system, which allows the bank to gather information on the spectators, was designed to punish dissent at the games.The protesters also suspect that the bank, owned by Erdogan’s family, got a special deal from the government. As the Bloomberg report notes, it didn’t even have a commercial banking license until last July. A bank spokesman said that the bank will make 50 cents for every ticket sold.In what has become a typical government response, protesters were beaten back by tear gas and water cannons on Sunday.