Monday, October 12, 2009

Ankaragucu, a cut above the rest.

Photo of a not so good guy from

An uncredited photo of some good guys.

There has been a lot of talk of mixing politics and football in recent weeks what with the Turkey-Armenia match coming up, not to mention the take over of Ankaragucu by the Mayor’s family. But now something really odd is occurring: The mixing of football and religion.

The first thing I noticed was the presence of Ankaragucu prayer rugs for sale just outside the stadium (starting price for bargaining 11TL in case you are interested). But what I saw in the Ankara section of today’s copy of Sabah nearly made me lose my lunch.

Apparently, Gucu’s honorary chairman Cemal Aydin (why is this clown still around anyway?) has provided the team with an animal to sacrifice after the last two victories. I was not able to locate the photograph that Sabah used, but it shows Aydın, Karaman, and members of the support staff and team looking on as an unidentified person slits the throat of what looks to be either a sheep or a goat.
Another photo shows two of the players dabbing blood on each other’s foreheads (apparently they also smeared it on their cleats). This sacrifice was apparently a move on Aydin’s part to improve the players’ morale (as if beating GS wasn’t already enough for that) and their chance of continued success. There was no mention of whether high priest Aydin read the entrails or not.

I'm not here to debate Kurban Bayram which is contextually very different, but I wonder if Ataturk would have felt that this cruel and superstitious nonsense (the Koran definitely does not call for an animal sacrifice to be done following football matches) fit his image of universal culture.


  1. Hey this is a country where camels are sacrified on the piste when the national airlines buys new planes.
    For a few years now I am going around taking photos during the "Kurban Bayramı", and believe me I got tons to say about this.

  2. Connect Kanka Steve5:24 pm

    Great post, Battle Damaged. I've never been one to care about animals (except when I'm eating them), but even this is a bit questionable to me.

  3. Actually, Sinan, when I posted this this morning, I thought it was an aberration, but I have since learned that it is not. I have been talking to people, and, while no one mentioned the camels being slaughtered right on the runway, I have learned of some strange stories.

    In the realm of football, I even read something about an animal being sacrificed upon the recovery of Trabzonspor player Yattara who had been injured for a while. I also read a story about GS fans sacrificing an animal either before or after one of their matches with AG, and the list goes on and on.

    A friend of mine at Ankara University recommended a book entitled Kurban to me. I cannot remember the author's name, but he was a Turkish ethnologist. I will share it when I do find out--on the off chance that there is anyone out there who is interested in it.

    Steven all I can say is that living at Bilkent certainly insulates us from the reality of Turkey.

  4. Connect Kanka Steve12:09 am

    Oh, and by "questionable" I mean "possibly not a good idea," not "I doubt that it happened." For some reason, this doesn't surprise me at all, given the trajectory of our management.

  5. Connect, don't worry, I understood you perfectly. When I said that it "insulates 'us'" I was first and foremost referring to my own naivete.

  6. Connect Kanka Steve11:33 am

    Ah yes, Bilkent. I've heard the call to prayer no more than seven times over the past year.

  7. Do forgive me kankas if I don't join this debate .... the idea of religion in footie fills me with loathing. I have been fighting this subject within my family and friends circles for many moons.

    I will just give this example of my hate of this subject when I tell you that my father (God bless him) refused to take me to a Celtic match against my team Hibs. The fact that he was a red hot Scottish Protestant had something to do with it !!

    I will never criticise him for his views, which are firmly entrenched in Scottish/Irish history, but I can't, and will not, allow this subject into sport.

    Let me just say this in closing ..... in all my footie matches for my Primary School and High School in Scotland, I never played against a Catholic school in a league match !! Shameful, but .... true.

    Even in these days as a young boy I was shaking my head in disbelief. However, the sad thing is that it is still going on in Scotland and Ireland !

    Let's put it to bed !!!

    As for sacrificing animals ..... no comment !!!

  8. Ah, yes, what you are talking about in Scotland and Ireland is quite a bit more serious. Prayer rugs and animal sacrifices are the mere trappings of religion--in fact, I doubt there is anything concrete in the Koran that calls for either one(although, G_d knows, I could be wrong).

    Hate and division based on religious affiliation is another matter altogether, and probably boils down to politics.

    That kind of political conflict is more like what we saw earlier with the chair hurling in Bursa at the match with Diyarbakirspor, or some of the anti-Israel chants that crop up from time to time.

    It could have reared its ugly head at last night's Turkey-Armenia match, but fortunately did not.

    Well done Bursa! And I hope everyone watching the match heard the Ankaragucu chants in the sixth minute. Very cool to hear that in an international match.

  9. Not just Ankaragucu. Check this out from the blog last year:

  10. You're right, it's not just Gucu, as I mentioned in my comment following Sinan's. The practice is rather widespread actually.

    I think the whole idea of animal sacrifice and smearing blood on your teammates to bring good luck (this is not the reason animals are slaughtered during Kurban Bayram) is pretty backward (very Lord of the Flies). It's backward in part because it doesn't really seem to work. It certainly doesn't bring any luck to the goat.

    And as pointed out in the article Oz kanka shared, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of empirical evidence that it works either.

    But I am curious about the topic. I was able to find the author and title of the book I mentioned in a previous comment. The author's name is Gürbüz Erginer. The book's title is Kurban Kurbanın Kökenleri ve Anadolu'da Kanlı Kurban Ritüelleri. It was published by Yapı Kredi. It may be out of print, so if anyone runs across it, please, let me know.

  11. Everyone here eats meat. Where do you guys think meat comes from? Cattle gets sacrificed every day to feed you guys. Muslims always eat or give the meat of a sacrificed animal to poor people as charity. I do agree that the players should not have played atound with the meat.

  12. Entrails are cleaned and eaten