Football-enthusiast Erdogan best man at Özil wedding
German World Cup winner Mesut Özil has married the former Miss Turkey, Amine Gulse, in Istanbul and his best man was Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Arsenal midfielder, who was born in Germany to Turkish parents, married on the banks of the Bosporus in one of the city’s most expensive hotels.
Özil faced condemnation last year when he posed for pictures with Erdogan ahead of the divisive presidential election in Turkey and before the World Cup in Russia. He was booed during a World Cup warmup match, despite scoring.
The fallout from the controversy led him to retire from international football after Germany’s World Cup group-stage humiliation.
The creative midfielder is reportedly Arsenal’s highest-paid player but he was dropped from the starting lineup, left out of the squad completely and missed several games through injury and “illness”, amid repeated criticism of his alleged lack of commitment.
Erdogan’s football club
Erdogan is heavily involved with Istanbul club, Basaksehir, which was only formed in 1990 and reached the top flight for the first time in 2007.
In 2014, ownership was transferred to the ministry of youth and sport, which turned the club into a joint stock company, as Erdogan, a former mayor of Istanbul, became president.
Basaksehir moved 30km from the city to a recently constructed satellite town which is home to a number of high-profile development projects, including a new airport, several corporate headquarters and the 17,000-seater Fatih Terim stadium. An ex-footballer, Erdogan played in an exhibition match and scored a hat-trick, against presumably limited defensive efforts.
The government-backed club has few authentic fans, amid allegations that paid supporters are brought to the venue.
Basaksehir during the season attracted gates of over 4,000 a game, the second-lowest in a league where the average is about 17,500.
They have an extensive list of sponsors and a high wage bill for a new club with such a tiny fan base.
The club last month narrowly missed out on the chance of becoming only the sixth side to be crowned champions after leading by eight points in April.
Its aged players include Premier League stars of the past Emmanuel Adebayor, Gaël Clichy, Robinho and Demba Ba. The squad’s average age was 31, making it the oldest side in Europe.
In April Besiktas became the first side to beat them in 2019 and Erdogan’s chosen team then dropped points in their next four games.
It has been a tough season for most Süper Lig clubs after years of mismanagement and a debt crisis made worse by the fluctuations of the Turkish lira. After years of excessive spending, clubs have been forced to give younger players a chance and make loans and free signings. On the positive side, the financial troubles have boosted the opportunities for Turkish talent and the calibre of domestic player production.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan plays for his footballing creation, Basaksehir. Picture credit: YouTube