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Soccer Culture in Istanbul

 by Tatsuru Kimura


I was fascinated by Turkish soccer style in FIFA World Cup in 2002.  They simply tried to go forward when they got the ball.  The simple and aggressive style reminds me of the brave Turkish soldier.  So I tried to have a close look at soccer culture in Istanbul.

            In Soccer vs. Mc World, Franklin Foer insisted on the local color that could not be exterminated from soccer culture despite globalization.  However, I noticed the globalizing aspect of soccer culture first.  At sports shops in Istanbul, they sell a lot of world famous soccer clubs’ uniforms, such as FC Barcelona, as well as local soccer uniforms.   I could find only a few Turkish National Team uniforms.  I also went to Inonu soccer stadium in Istanbul.  Although I did not get into the stadium, I observed the supporters outside of the stadium.  The fans sang a supporter’s song in Turkish, but it has somewhat familiar sound.   The rhythm of the song is common to those of other soccer supporter’s songs from other parts of the world.  At street shops in Istanbul, they sell towels and hats, whose designs are also seen in the U.S. or other western countries.  This is to be expected because most of those towels and hats are made in China and sent all over the world.  I felt a little bit bored with such standardized soccer culture. 

According to Jenny B. White, writing in Money Makes Us Relatives, the quick expansion of the city forced change in society in Istanbul and led to an increase of poverty.  Although I did not see such extreme poverty, in the trend of globalization, the city may be losing its characteristic feature as an intersection of European and Asian cultures.  The soccer culture of the city might reflect such social change.  However, I do not object to the global spreading of soccer itself.  I played soccer with a couple of local kids around Galata Tower and I found it easy to communicate with people from a different culture through soccer.  Although sports are generally useful for socializing with people from an unfamiliar culture, soccer is one of the most effective ways to communicate because of its global spread and simplicity. 

            The rules of soccer are very easy to understand, and basically the only equipment you need to start playing soccer is a ball.  Because of these reasons, soccer spread over the entire world.  Also because of the simplicity of its rules, the play style of soccer varies from country to country and has reflected each culture.  However, now, some other factors which constitute soccer cultures are being unified again in the trend of globalization.

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