While there are many demographics represented in Istanbul, the city can be divided into three main tribes, based on loyalty to Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, or Beşiktaş. I am of course referring to the three most popular and successful football clubs in the Turkish Super League, all situated in Istanbul. (Honestly, have you ever met anybody who supports Istanbul Başakşehir?). Even people who don’t follow football and can’t name a single player on any team have an allegiance to one of these clubs.
For best results, click to enlarge images.
My first real home in Istanbul was located in Beşiktaş, but it was the rebellious spirit of the BJK faithful that attracted me to the team. After being called anarchists by a prominent political figure, the Beşiktaş fanatics embraced the intended insult and began writing their slogan “Çarşı” everywhere with the “a” replaced by a red anarchy symbol. That kind of underdog, fight to the death spirit reminded me of my home city of Philadelphia. I’d found my Turkish team.
Let me be clear, I am a very casual fan. Now that Demba Ba is back, I can name exactly one player on the team. However, it’s hard to be in Beşiktaş on match day and not get caught up in the fanfare. The recently renovated stadium is walking distance from the main rallying point – Beşiktaş Çarşı. However, the fans don’t exactly walk there. They flock. They parade. They march. I recently set out to document this exodus, as well as the general atmosphere of match day.
All images courtesy of the author.