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Turkey can expect strong support from the Turkish-German community during Euro 2024. Germany too.

Turkey can expect strong support from the Turkish-German community during Euro 2024. Germany too.
Turkey can expect strong support from the Turkish-German community during Euro 2024. Germany too.


Six years ago, Ilkay Gndogan's place in the German national team was in question because of a photo with the Turkish president. He is now the captain of the team.

When Gndogan leads the German national team against Scotland in the opening match of the European Championship on Friday, he will be the first captain of Turkish origin at a major tournament.

For some members of the large Turkish-German community, the Barcelona midfielder embodies a hybrid identity that is gaining ground even in the face of political advances by the anti-immigration far right, said Caner Aver, a researcher at the Center for Turkish studies and research on integration. in the German city of Essen.

While Gndogan had to choose which country to represent on the field, fans can support both. As the tournament approached, Aver bought a German national team jersey and a Turkish national team jersey for his 6-year-old son, cut them in half and sewed the halves together to create his own kit hybrid.

I think there will be a lot of people who support both national teams and would probably be happy if they met at some point in the semifinals or finals, Aver told the Associated Press.

One of those supporting both Germany and Turkey is Osman Eroglu, goalkeeper and board member of Trkgc Ratingen, a Turkish community football club located on the outskirts of the host city of the Euro 2024, Düsseldorf.

For us, for people with a migrant background who are now the third or fourth generation, it is also a European championship in our own country, after all, Eroglu told the AP. It's doubly happy because Turkey is also represented this year, so straight away there are two teams you can root for and keep your fingers crossed.

Others wonder whether players from minority groups could become scapegoats for German fans or the media if the team fails. Some even see the choice of Germany over Turkey as an act of betrayal. Gndogan was particularly targeted by boos from some supporters of the Turkish national team during a friendly match against Germany in Berlin last year, which Turkey won 3-2.

When Gndogan and teammate Mesut Zil, another German star player of Turkish descent, posed for photos with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup, they were sharply criticized by the president of the German football federation at the time, Reinhard. Grindel, who said Erdogan did not sufficiently share the organization's values.

After the World Cup, Zil left the national team, citing feelings of racism and disrespect following anti-Turkish comments from far-right politicians and fans. zil never played for Germany again and retired from football last year.

Younis Kamil is an academic and football coach of Sudanese and German origin who is working with a major Turkish community organization in Germany and the National Olympic Committee on a project around Euro 2024 and sports participation of people with family background of migration.

Even with Gndogan as captain, there are few people of Turkish origin and other minority groups in coaching and authority positions in German football, Kamil said.

There is still a gap between the possibility of identifying with the German national team, and I think one of the main reasons is the lack of representation in decision-making structures, as well as the experiences of discrimination that young people have in their daily lives, Kamil told the AP.

The Turkish national team has five German-born players in its squad and enjoys enthusiastic support.

Germany will be like a host country, Turkish defender Ozan Kabak, who was born in Turkey but plays for his club in Germany, said in a recent interview. A lot of Turks live here and I think whole stadiums will be filled with Turks.”

The Turkish team's fans even outnumbered the German fans during the friendly match in Berlin last year. Unfortunately for Kabak, he will not play when Turkey begin their Euro 2024 campaign on June 18 after suffering a knee injury before the tournament.

Turkey plays its first two matches of Euro 2024 against Georgia and Portugal in Dortmund before facing the Czech Republic in Hamburg. Both cities have many inhabitants of Turkish origin.

Many people of Turkish origin in Germany are descended from guest workers who arrived during the Cold War. An economic boom after World War II led to a severe labor shortage in West Germany.

A history of migration from countries such as Italy, Greece and Croatia and, more recently, the arrival of refugees from Ukraine means these teams are also likely to benefit from substantial local support.

This year also brings a significant legal change as long-standing restrictions on dual citizenship are abolished, making it easier for naturalized German citizens to also retain their Turkish passports.

It's not one or the other, it's both, said Aver, the researcher who made his son a half-and-half jersey for Euro 2024. He hopes the tournament can help bring together German society.

It is important, at a time when right-wing populism is on the rise, to put diversity at the forefront, he said. So I hope and wish that fans celebrate together, commiserate together, and experience joy together.


AP Football:




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