Red card for Turkish football fans?

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In Euromoney’s December 2014 issue, we described in detail how Bank Asya had become a political football in Turkey. Politics and banking now seem to have combined to create a row in Turkey’s football community as well.

A new e-ticketing system, called Passolig, through which all tickets for Turkish top-tier Super Lig matches must now be bought, "whiffs of political cronyism" The Times reported in January, and is emptying stadiums. Attendances have apparently more than halved since the system was introduced last season.

Supporters now have to buy their tickets through a special credit card issued by Aktif Bank, which has close ties to President Erdogan – Aktif’s parent company is run by Erdogan’s son-in-law.

The government argues that the system will help improve safety at Turkish football matches, which have been afflicted by hooligan-related violence. But supporters protest that it is simply another example of increasing authoritarianism by the Erdogan regime.

Politics aside, at Euromoney we’re not sure about the benefits of a close relationship between football and finance. Who remembers that Northern Rock used to be lead sponsor of Newcastle United? And FX trader Alpari, shirt-sponsor of West Ham, had to file for bankruptcy in January after it suffered big losses following the Swiss central bank’s removal of the Swiss franc/euro cap.

The battle for Bank Asya

The battle for Bank Asya

Euromoney December 2014

Turkey’s president has tried to kick of one of the country’s largest banks into touch, through public attacks and behind-the-scenes pressure. Despite becoming a political football, Bank Asya is still in the game. Can Turkey’s reputation in the west as a place to do business survive Erdogan’s continued, politically-motivated vendetta?