İstanbul mayor-elect says minister ordered clubs to prevent his attendance at matches

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PHOTO: Sözcü

Ekrem İmamoğlu, who was elected mayor of İstanbul according to unofficial results in the March 31 local elections, has said Turkish football clubs Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş received threats from a minister and were told not to allow him to come to the teams’ matches over the weekend, according to journalist Nagehan Alçı.

İmamoğlu, who was elected from the ranks of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) but has not yet been certified as the winner due to Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) objections to the election results, on Saturday attended a match between Beşiktaş and Başakşehir on Saturday and another match between Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray on Sunday. Both matches were in İstanbul, and Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe fans chanted slogans in favor of İmamoğlu, calling on the authorities to give him the mandate to govern.

Alçı wrote in her column in the Habertürk daily on Monday that she received a call from İmamoğlu following the Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray matches on Sunday night because Alçı had earlier called on him not to go to the matches, fearing that it could stoke tension.

According to Alçı İmamoğlu said her concerns were unwarranted and that there was no tension caused by his attendance at the matches, adding that there were some attempts, however, to prevent him from going at all.

He said both the Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe clubs received phone calls threatening them and ordering them to prevent his attendance at the matches.

When Alçı asked who made the threats, İmamoğlu said, “Let me just say for the time being that it was a minister.”

Since March 31, Turkey’s election authority has refused to certify İmamoğlu as the winner because the AKP has been objecting to the results and asking for a recount of votes in the city.

The AKP even wants to hold the election again in İstanbul, where İmamoğlu has received at least 14,000 more votes than the AKP candidate, Binali Yıldırım.

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