Friendly suggestions for Ali Koç
With a triumphant win, Ali Koç was chosen as the President of the Fenerbahce Football Club on Sunday, the 4th of June, which I believe is somewhat like a bed of nails. I wish him the very best of success in his new role. From an outsider point of view and for someone who can perceive things well, I’d like to give him a few pieces of advice. I hope this article is of great benefit to him and I wish him a very successful presidency period.
Firstly, I would like to congratulate Ali Koç for attaining what is seen as a historical victory. To be able to throw off Fenerbahce’s existing President of 20 years by a margin of 4 times the votes is not something everyone can do. With a concrete like structure, in a time where the perception held was “if Aziz Yildirim doesn’t permit, it wont change”, achieving this victory is unbelievable. Congratulations.
Of course, the real deal starts now. After this victory, he lays in a bed of nails. His every move, speech and actions undertaken will be under full scope. Therefore, I have few recommendations for him regarding this. From an outsider point of view and for someone who can perceive things well, I hope my recommendations are of benefit to him. I’d like to line up my recommendations below under sub headings.
1- The significant increase in expectations:
The biggest danger is the fact that the expectations of Ali Koç has increased significantly. Fenerbahce supporters perceive him as someone who can save the club and open up the club to a world of potential. Infact, from what I have seen on social media, there have been some political statements made by putting up photos of Ataturk and captioning these with “each term there is a a blue-eyed saviour”, with some posts breaching their purpose. Taking the lead of one of the most important sporting clubs in Turkey, starting with a high expectation of this threshold will allow him to gain momentum and time. This means, for 1-2 years, no one will be questioning Ali Koç for answers. However, in a period of failure, the wind will start to blow the other way. Exactly like the way Obama got chosen as president in the US. They also announced him as the superhero who will fix everything. But two-three years later, when they saw he wasn't responding to any of the expectations, the people started to criticise Obama heavily. For this reason, he completed his second term under heavier conditions. Ali Koç also needs to manage and direct these expectations. Firstly, in order to take these expectations to a reasonable level, he needs to lay all his cards on the table from the start and create a safety zone for himself.
2- The responsibility of being on show
At this moment in Turkey, after the Prime Minister, he has come to be the next person of high rating. In other words, Ali Koç he is one of the top people on show. Everything he says and does is under full scope. To give you an example, from what I have seen on social media, the conservative population criticised him for drinking water at the stadium. “How did he look people in the eye and drink water in the middle of Ramadan?” were some of the comments. Here I don’t believe that people who fast can criticise those who don’t but as Ali Koç is at the centre of the country’s attention, he needs to act accordingly to the customs. I know many people who don’t mind if people eat or drink next to them while they are fasting, and infact say things like “do as you please”. In order for peace for this country, this tolerance needs to be shown both ways. But of course, Ali Koç still needs to be careful with all the actions he takes.
3- Championship is the only achievement
If you are the president of one of the three big teams in Turkey, then unfortunately you need to learn to deal with the perception that championship is your only criteria. If you look at the data in the past and if you include Trabzonspor and Bursaspor’s championships, it shows a 1/3 percent reduction in success. Can you imagine, you start the league with a 30% chance and all the supporters are in for a win regardless of this! Especially with the rivalry between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, and if you look at it like a war like rivalry, the results as opposed to the expectations can bring about a serious level of reaction. Even if the chance of championship reduces, the minds start to say ‘we hope at least Galatasaray or Fenerbahce don’t win’. In this kind of environment, Ali Koç already has two years of credit, and thats purely because he is Ali Koç. Normally, the supporters of the top three can only handle one year of not being champions, and then the complaints and protesting begins. Especially if the team has been playing badly and losing games that are unacceptable, then supporters don’t even wait for a year. If Ali Koç witnesses a Galatasaray championship during this time, then his credit will run out really quickly. Yes, an environment which has high expectations also has high credit, but unfortunately, the way our people can help you reach your peak, they can almost immediately reduce down to pieces unfortunately. Be careful. What is required here is an effective management of perception. To be able to explain the fact that the only achievement is not a championship and certainly not to just win over Galatasaray is what is required. To be able to be successful in other sporting fields outside of football, to raise international footballers from lower leagues, and that sport can save the lives of so many young people needs to be reiterated to Fenerbahce supporters. Ali Koç has the chance to show the country that Fenerbahce can make contributions and that he himself can change the negative perspective.
4- Anger Management:
During the Fenerbahce Presidency elections, I watched the speeches and noticed two different tones of Ali Koç. The first was, constructive, collaborator and a tone of appraisal given to Aziz Yildirim. The other which was displayed from time to time was ready to fight, the type to do whatever it takes and very critical of Aziz Yildirim. The result I came up with was: a person that is on show like this must be careful in the tone he speaks in. Especially in a difficult and stressed environment, anger management is a must and no matter what happens you need to remain coldblooded and calm. Along with politics, the next most important topic in Turkey is football and in this network, the press and supporters will do anything to get the other side angry and make them say things they may regret. I believe that in the press, the field with the lowest level is sport and magazine. Those that work in this field like to make fake news and make news of things that really haven’t happened and haven’t been said and are willing to do anything to light fire under the opposition. Of course there are very important and valuable sport and magazine journalists but they are an exception. Everyone likes to take advantage of popularity in order to increase ratings. In an environment like this, Ali Koç needs to be very careful, controlled and plan his every action in the best possible ways. God forbid, any bad words that come out of the mouth in this environment can really leave Ali Koç in a bad position. He needs to manage and control his own supporters and press, along with those of the rival side.
5- Fenerbahce hostility:
Thanks to Aziz Yildirim, the hostility in the last 20 years has been at an all-time peak for Fenerbahce. Aziz Yildirim generally used his tongue of hatred. Because of this tongue of hatred at Fenerbahce, he was the reason the country was split. In other situations, in order to get his supporters on his side, he made way for a lot of tension. In the end, he was the reason the whole country had hate for Fenerbahce. Besides Aziz Yildirim, there were others taking this hatred forward. For example, Emre Belozoglu or the goal keeper, Volkan Demirel. But however much there was blaming of others in negative tones, continual fights within the game or actions to start arguments, it mysteriously made the Fenerbahce supporters really happy. Although they may have portrayed actions that cannot be accepted, on many social platforms they still posted them as “our Emre, our Volkan” and stood behind them. Every time they played well, they were again made out as heroes. And sometimes they stood behind ridiculous statements like “I am playing on field for the sake of my team so for this reason its normal for me to be aggressive. But beyond the field, there is a much more calm and respectful Emre”. These players that should be an example to the whole of Turkey, have deepened the problems of this country by working up the already aggressive supporter base. And this then aggravates the sane Fenerbahce supporters and supporters of the other teams. Emre leaving Fenerbahce was for all the best for Fenerbahce. Now in line is Volkan. Infact if they both stopped playing football, it would be for the best for Turkish football. This way, those that support them directly can now be influenced by better role models on the field. Ali Koç’s decision to have Volkan make a jubilee in this aspect is a very good decision. I congratulate him. The expectation from a good footballer is not only good performance. A good sportsman is at the same time a role model. Sportsman need to be exactly how Ataturk describes them to be “I like sportsmen who are intelligent, agile as well as morally upright”.
Beyond this, he has a chance to change the hate against his own team and form it into a much loved and respected team.
Apart from the segregation that football has, he can also stress that it also has a uniting effect, in all environments he can bring about the common denominator which is brotherhood, to be respectful and to display hospitality in the best possible way at the Fenerbahce stadium (not only to directors, but also to rival team supporters) which will be of much benefit. Additionally, whether they win or lose, he should always be constructive, use positive language and not blame anyone. Even if he came across the most obvious of injustices, he needs to only murmur for the “rights of Fenerbahce” and keep quiet about it. These are things that all trigger the chaos in Turkish football. He needs to clearly show the mistakes that have been made and leave it up to the public to accolade. These mistakes will eventually be corrected by public pressures.
6- Galatasaray hostility:
There is so much that can be done about this topic. I have many friends who support Fenerbahce who say “We don’t have to be champions or attain success in Europe, as long as we win Galatasaray”. To focus so heavily on one rival and base so much hatred on them can leave a damaging effect on people. I feel I got a good impression from Ali Koç regarding this matter. From the talks at the stadium, he has put a stop to the detrimental manifestation talks against Galatasaray and didn’t allow for this kind of hatred to be used towards them. Bravo Ali Koç. From now on, we hope and expect he continues with this kind of attitude. Of course, this will have a very positive effect to the Galatasaray army.
7- Financial situation:
In Turkey, besides a few clubs, the financial situation of the others are in a terrible state. The important majority are literally sunk. Especially Trabzonspor and Bursaspor, who are right behind the 3 big teams. Besides a couple of teams in the Super League, each year the others struggle to figure out how they will pay their debts and how to get themselves out of this unhealthy financial situation. Im not even mentioning the 1st league and the ones below. Although they receive hefty revenue streams from broadcasting and from supporters who come to the stadium, most of the club managers who are obsessed with popularity are the ones who bring the clubs to this position because of their irresponsibility. These managers who run their own companies with utmost financial discipline, seem to not care when it comes to running the sporting clubs. Most of their goals are to increase their own popularity, so they don’t care about the financial position of their club. First and foremost, Ali Koç must correct the financial structure at the club. Otherwise, he will constantly face obstacles in the way of his visions for the club. He needs to form a financial discipline program which he must abide by and allow for no compromises. Without getting too obsessed about becoming popular, he needs to forget about putting the reputable players in the forefront and make long term plans and choose the best players. From some of his declarations, I know this is exactly what he will do. So, my advice regarding this is to never compromise on the financial discipline of the club. Because if he does, he will experience many more issues.
8- Investing in the youth base:
The most important move that he can make in sport is to maximise the investment to the lower leagues and youth. Infact one of the most important percentages in the professional team’s budgets should consist of spending for the lower leagues rather than very expensive transfers which will be a benefit not only to Fenerbahce but also to the sport in our country. Fenerbahce and other clubs in Turkey need to put their need for popularity aside and with much patience seriously invest in the lower leagues and youth base. It would also be good for them to put yearly goals down for themselves. If they focus on “every year we will take 3 players from the lower leagues into the A teams” it’ll help achieve their goal. If they put these goals into place and actually act for them, it will be a good example to all other sporting fields in the country and be of much benefit to everyone.
9- Sport - a national matter:
The development of a country is linked to its success in sport. Take the olympics as an example. The most successful countries are the ones who are most developed economically and culturally. Sporting competitions are places where they get to prove themselves. Unfortunately, Turkey has a very weak point when it comes to these sporting events. From time to time, there were some that stood out in weight lifting and wrestling, and from time to time with foreign players, technical directors and trainers, there was some international success due to these transfers. These trials of success were not actually reflections of the country’s success. And please don’t mention the concept of industrial football. Real success is one where a country’s own local player has become successful. For example, in football, with the 11 players on field not counting the keeper, at least half need to be local. So that means, with the exception of the keeper, with 10 on field, at least five should be Turkish. It is the role of these sporting clubs to be able to bring up competitors for the olympics. Therefore, Ali Koç needs to take into regard this national matter and take the necessary steps to put forward those players with potential in order to help the country develop.
10- Fenerbahce fanaticism:
Every team has serious levels of fanaticism. However, the fanaticism towards Fenerbahce is growing more over the other big teams in Turkey. This obsession becomes indebted from a young age and whilst it can be fun and harmless, it generally can get out of hand. The fanaticism at Fenerbahce is a homogenous one. Supporters of the population who have the lowest of economic freedom without jobs or of poor status and those who have higher levels of economic status have similar levels of fanaticism. All of them are seriously passionate. Its great that they stand for their team and support them through thick and thin however from time to time the things that are done and said can leave a foul taste in your mouth. For example, I know a few supporters of Fenerbahce who speak like this “Nothing gives me pleasure like Fenerbahce does” or “as long as we win Galatasaray” or also “If we become champions, Im willing to do … in return”. I can’t tell you here who these people are but they have said some things that have shocked me. Also, saying metaphoric things like “Fenerbahce Republic” is really wrong and offensive. Referring to Fenerbahce as a “Republic”, even as a joke, is very offensive and belittling to the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his fighting troops. Ali Koç needs to stay away from the “us and them” kind of expressions. He needs to stress the importance that the country is the only Republic and that it was formed by Atatürk and his troops as the “Republic of Turkey”.
11- Friendship and brotherhood in the country:
Friendly tiffs and joking around is a way of sporting competitions. After some games and many important events, I laugh alot at some memes. I even laugh at memes that mock Galatasaray. Without being offensive, rude or attacking, it should be taken as a joke. However, this is not always the case. Offending the rival team with comments or written allegations regarding sensitive topics really eliminates friendship and brotherhood in the country. I will give an example from the Fenerbahce supporters: in the second half of the last season, the cup game that was played at Fenerbahce stadium with Besiktas saw Besiktas’ technical director, Senol Gunes get injured so therefore he was granted time off. “He is faking it - this is not real” were some of the ridiculous arguments made and by putting aside the attitude of the Besiktas president at the end of the game, Fenerbahce’s elite supporters showed their defence by wrapping their heads up in bandage at a following basketball game that was played to show their intelligence (!) and to make a mockery of one of Turkey’s greatest technical directors, Senol Gunes. Later on it was found that one of these people who made these comments was a manager at Finansbank who was made to apologise for the comments he made. I ask you, how is that someone can be offended in this way by supporters who have high levels of education, what kind of psychological state are they in?
Again, in the same way in the year 2002, Fenerbahce defeated Galatasaray with a history breaking result of 6-0 and the supporters taught their children to make a hand gesture displaying the number “6”, what kind of frame of mind is that? Instead of teaching children to offend the opposing team, shouldn’t we be teaching them to treat each other with love and respect?
The magnitude at Fenerbahce is immense but to be honest, everyone team in this country has this fanaticism. Infact those teams always say things like “they did this to us, so we did this to get them back” to prove themselves in the right. The result of all this then is an environment full of fights and disagreements. If the opposing team does your team wrong, then the defence shouldn’t be to do the same to them.
The country doesn’t need tension like this. There is so much that Ali Koç needs to do in the name of friendship and brotherhood.
12- The relationship between politics and football:
Sport, especially football is so popular that its impossible for politicians to show interest. Even though some prime ministers of many countries don’t understand much about football, they want to benefit from its popularity and thats why they try to participate in the competitions from time to time, to be able to form an idea about it. Sometimes, the opposite too can happen. If the presidents of these sporting clubs are successful, their names are commemorated with politics. Ali Koç also has the mentality to be encouraged to get into this kind of politics. For that reason, in my humble opinion, I suggest Ali Koç to stay away from politics, especially while being at the head of Fenerbahce. Otherwise, he will pull in the rough winds of politics into the sport.
My wish is for Turkish sport to progress in friendship and brotherhood, and for it to have a climate which encourages success and benefit to the country. Take care…