Galatasaray footballer Taylan Antalyalı sparked a homophobic backlash when he shared a friend’s story on Instagram showing Antalyalı wearing a T-shirt reading “Powered by Pride” in rainbow colors, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Monday.
The T-shirt in question was part of a collection designed by athletic and casual footwear brand Puma in cooperation with the OUT Foundation, a nongovernmental organization supporting LGBTQ+ people.
The commentators at VAR Odası, a sports program aired on TV100 TV, criticized Antalyalı’s support of Pride Week.
Sports commentator Emre Bol, who had previously made racist remarks about another Galatasaray player, said, “Everyone should respect the social norms of the country they live in,” adding, “Let’s see [what happens] if you wear this T-shirt in Erzurum [a conservative eastern Turkish province].”
Turgay Demir, another commentator, suggested that Antalyalı be removed from the national team.
The program’s other commentator, Bışar Özbey, however, criticized Bol and Demir’s homophobic remarks.
Serbay Şenkal, presenter of “Günaydın Galatasaray Ailesi,” aired on Galatasaray’s official TV channel, GS TV, lambasted Bol and Demir in a video he posted on Twitter on Tuesday, saying: “As a fan of Galatasaray, I am proud of him for his courage. I congratulate Taylan Antalyalı for not ‘otherizing’ or polarizing people and not engaging in racism, fascistic behavior or zealotry.”
Sinal Güler, a basketball player on the Turkish national team, lent support to Antalyalı in a tweet on Tuesday, urging the sports community to “remove hatred and discrimination” from sports.
PEN member Barbaros Altuğ posted a tweet on Tuesday supporting Antalyalı, also referring to a post by singer Sibel Can.
Antalyalı also received huge support from football fans, particularly from those supporting Galatasaray, against the homophobic remarks targeting him.
Galatasaray fans also urged the Galatasary Sports Club to use Antalyalı’s T-shirt photo as the club’s “good morning” photo, shared regularly every morning as a show of support for the player.
The sports club did, so albeit belatedly, posting the photo on its official Twitter account on Tuesday.