Monday, 6 April 2015

Fenerbahçe players lucky to be alive as gunman targets team bus

A gunman came close to causing a major tragedy after shooting and injuring the driver of the bus carrying the Fenerbahçe team after their match in Rize.

The shooting happened as the Turkish Super Lig leaders were making their way back to Istanbul having beaten Rizespor 5-1. Several shots rained down on them, shattering glass and hitting the driver in the head, who was taken to hospital. 

The bus was travelling along a viaduct when it was shot at – but for the reflexes of the security guard sitting next to the driver, who managed to slam on the brakes as the injured driver collapsed at the wheel, the bus could have toppled down the ravine with tragic results.

The incident has been condemned by both the football and government authorities, with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu stating that an investigation was under way.

Although none of the players or other staff onboard was injured, the deliberate hit has shaken the entire team.

Michal Kadlec "fearful"
After the incident, one of the club’s star players, Czech international defender Michal Kadlec told Vatan newspaper: “We are footballers and our job is to play football. However, we have now come to a point where our lives are at risk. If people had panicked on the bus, we could have died. It’s impossible to explain what we lived through. If death is the result of the love of football then we can’t call it sport. For myself, I am fearful of what lies ahead.”

His sentiments have been echoed by many other foreign players at the club, whose families have urged them to leave Turkey following the rise in violent incidents across the country. They include a spate of bombings and the recent killing by a radical left-wing terrorist group of Mehmet Selim Kiraz, a leading Turkish prosecutor in an Istanbul courthouse.

Senior officials from Fenerbahçe have called for the suspension of the league until security matters have been assessed.

Fenerbahçe, who have former Premier League players Dirk Kuyt, Raul Meireles and Emre Belozoglu in their side, are the defending champions and have won the major domestic competition 19 times. The Istanbul-based team went top of the table with their victory on Saturday, one point ahead of rivals Galatasaray.

Bullet holes visible after Fenerbahçe team bus shot at on Saturday night

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