For what is surely the first time in world football, Turkish club Fenerbahce played a league match recently, with a crowd of only women and children aged under 12.
Fenerbahce were ordered to play two matches behind closed doors after fans had stormed the pitch in a friendly against Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer. But Fenerbahce asked the Turkish FA to just ban men from the stadium and allow only women and children to attend instead, which the Turkish FA accepted.
So for their league match against Manisaspor last Tuesday, Fenerbahce handed out free tickets and more than 41,000 women and children attended the match. Women formed long queues outside the Sukru Saracoglu stadium in Istanbul and before kick-off, both sets of players threw flowers into the crowd.
Speaking before the game, a female member of Fenerbahce’s executive board, Yasmin Mercil, said:
”This really is a historic day. For the first time in the world, only women and children will watch a game. The women know all the chants. The same anthems, the same chants will be sung.”
After the match, Fenerbahce captain Alex De souza, said:
”This memory will stay with me forever. It’s not always that you see so many women and children in one game.”
Fenerbahce defender Joseph Yobo added:
”We have to thank the ladies for coming to support us. It’s difficult playing without the fans.’‘