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VIE 29.04.2016 | News

LaLiga is a game changer in Turkey

Uğur Karakullukçu, Head of the Foreign Sport Desk at Sabah Daily and European Football Pundit at A Spor TV explaines the rise of the Spanish competition in his country.


VIE 29.04.2016

From a European perspective, the Turkish Super Lig may seem like a low level league but actually it's really tough, competitive and passionate. Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş have enormous fan bases and the atmosphere at the stadiums is really special.

There is the economic strength to bring quality players. You can't see anyone on the streets if there is a Galatasaray-Fenerbahçe derby, but the unique culture of Turkish football is about to change with the rise of LaLiga.

Which league is the best in the world? It's an eternal debate and football fans may have different ideas about it, but in Turkey there is only one answer. I can easily say Turkish fans love Barcelona and Real Madrid much more than all the other European teams combined. You can see people arguing and taking sides as if it were a Galatasaray-Fenerbahçe derby. We have seen many great teams such as Milan, Ajax and Manchester United in the Champions League, but you couldn't see the 'Turkish style' hardcore passion in their games. It was unimaginable a decade ago, but the 'Clasicos' are becoming more and more like a local derby here, and it's a huge development.

La Liga has another major difference when compared to the other major European leagues here: the Turkish player tradition in Spain. Former Turkish international striker Nihat Kahveci was a legend at Real Sociedad, and people here were supporting them as if they were their own team. He played seven incredible seasons in Spain between 2002 and 2009. Arda Turan carried the flag to Spain in 2011 and, arguably, he's now playing in one of the best teams in the history of football. Barcelona had a following here before Arda, but his move to Spain was a big step up for Turkish football. He became recognised around the world as a player first at Atletico Madrid and them with Barça.

Arda Turan has been a key figure for my journalism career too. I was watching Arda in Florya as a high school student, from where the Galatasaray Academy's best generation of players emerged, the class of 1987. A few years later, he became the youngest captain of the team when my career started and it has continued in his LaLiga era. I'm a European football pundit for national TV now and he's a player of the mighty Barcelona. It seems like LaLiga is changing both of our lives, more than we know.


© LALIGA - 2016