Fenerbahçe football club, one of Turkey’s most prominent teams, has decided to cancel a three-year contract with a new player over social media posts he is alleged to have shared showing him saluting the flag of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.
The football club accuses Ozan Suncak, a football player from Germany, of spreading propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), according to journalist Karwan Faidhi Dri.
Fenerbahçe decided to cancel the contract within 24 hours of social media users sharing Suncak’s posts.
Suncak said on Instagram that the allegations were not true, and that he would seek legal action. His management company also issued a statement saying that such allegations regarding social media threatened the potential career of a promising young player.
“Ozan Suncak has nothing to do with politics. The social media post does not belong to Ozan Suncak. We will seek to protect the legal rights of our player against those who shared and disseminated the post,” the statement said.
Turkey itself recognises the official flag of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, and Ankara has developed a close relationship with the President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani in recent years.
In reaction to the news about Suncak, social media users shared photographs of the same flag, in use by the Divan Hotel in Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital Erbil (Hewlêr). The hotel belongs to Turkey’s leading investment company Koç Group, owned by Turkey’s wealthiest family. Ali Koç of the same family is currently serving as chairman of Fenerbahçe.