The much-anticipated derby clash between Istanbul giants Besiktas and Fenerbahce in the semi-final of Turkish Cup was called off in the 58th minute after violence caused by both sets of fans at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium. Besiktas coach Senol Gunes was hit by a projectile as he crumbled onto the ground with a deep gash on his head. He was then taken by his own medical staff into the dressing rooms where he received five stitches for a head wound.
On Thursday, Fenerbahce were ahead on away goals in the tie and had an extra man in the heated derby encounter against Besiktas. Former Real Madrid defender, Pepe, had been sent off for a reckless, double-footed tackle on Josef de Souza early in the first half. The game had already been stopped twice after Fenerbahce fans hurled objects at Besiktas' Ricardo Quaresma while he was trying to take a corner. The incident followed a series of vocal disagreements between Fenerbahce fans.
This was not the first time that Turkish football had come under the spotlight for fans' misbehaviour.
Just a few days ago, when the two teams shared the spoils in the first leg, the game was typically marred by three red cards. Interestingly, this is just the way Istanbul derbies have been over the years. In the last five derbies between Besiktas and Fenerbahce, the referee has brandished 11 red cards and 32 yellow cards.
Two seasons ago, during the Turkish Super Lig football match between Trabzonspor and Fenerbahce was abandoned in the 89th minute after a fan attacked the assistant referee. The fan ran on to the pitch and started attacking the official, Volkan Bayarslan, pushing him to the ground and punching him. The Istanbul police were forced to use tear gas and water cannon against Besiktas fans before the opening match at the team's new stadium.
The series of events have tarnished the image of Turkish football and it seems that the severity of fans' misbehaviour on the pitch has only gotten worse by each proceeding derby.
Things went out of control when Idmanyurdu's head coach Yuksel Yesilova was stabbed six times on the pitch during the 1 League game between Mersin Idmanyurdu and Samsunspor in 2010. However, the Turkish officials were slow to react to the situation. Miraculously, Yesilova survived but Burak Yildirim, a 19-year-old student, wasn't lucky as he was stabbed to death on the day of an Istanbul derby in 2013. The reason? He was wearing a Fenerbahce jersey.
Later in the year, a pocket knife was thrown at the then Galatasaray's forward Burak Yilmaz, which led to a serious face injury, while former Everton player Manuel Fernandes was kicked to the ground by a pitch invader.
Even horrific instances have taken place in the recent times like the one on 4 April, 2015. The day that almost killed 42 people, including former Premier League players such as Dirk Kuyt and Emre Belozoglu in a road accident. Just a few hours after beating Rizespor, the Fenerbahce bus was shot at. The driver, who was driving the bus at 100 kmph, somehow managed to steer the bus to a nearby hospital despite being shot and dripping in blood. The incident led to the league getting suspended.
It remains to be seen if something similar happens this time around.