A diplomatic incident has developed between Iceland and Turkey following the alleged mistreatment of the Turkish national football team at Keflavik International Airport.
The squad arrived in the Icelandic capital on Sunday, ahead of Tuesday’s Euro 2020 Group H crunch game against the Nordic side.
The Turks accused Iceland of “insulting” treatment after they were held at the airport for more than three hours and subjected to numerous searches. It is normally possible to pass through the small airport in half an hour.
According to Turkish forward Burak Yılmaz, airport police held the players at passport control while thoroughly and repeatedly searching their luggage, with no explanation given.
Emerging from Customs control, midfielder Emre Belözoğlu told waiting media that:
“There has been an unnecessary search since we arrived at the airport. It has been tense … The national team has been searched by the Icelandic police from head to toe at the airport.”
🇹🇷The Turkish NT were forced to wait for hours in customs after arriving in Iceland today
The NT and travelling journalists are furious with the conduct of the Icelandic authorities
To make matters worse a reporter decided to hold a toilet brush to the face of Emre Belözoğlu pic.twitter.com/Ahh1NxSa1t
— Turkish Football (@Turkish_Futbol1) 9 June 2019
To add insult to injury, as Belözoğlu was being interviewed, a young European man thrusts a dish-scouring brush towards the player’s face as if it were a microphone and film’s the reaction. It is not clear what the man’s intentions were, but it underlined the lack of security for the Turkish side and their vulnerability at the airport.
A protest was lodged by Turkey’s nearest embassy in Oslo (neither Iceland nor Turkey have embassies in each other’s countries), while its Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the way his country’s national football team had been treated was “unacceptable both in terms of diplomatic practices and humanitarian sense”.
Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted: “The disrespectful treatment of our national team in Iceland is not acceptable.”
Trending on Twitter #turksarecomingforiceland
The issue trended on Twitter on Sunday night. Using the hashtag #turksarecomingforiceland, Turks got creative to highlight the offence caused and also mock the Icelanders with memes about their impending doom having upset the Turkish nation.
Wolves, tanks, gangsters, manager Şenol Güneş morphed into the Godfather, and even Salt Bae greasing a large wooden rolling pin all featured.
The mood of the Turkish nation was best captured by Ejder Memis, who wrote:
“Turkish football team arrive in Iceland and is trolled with a toilet brush for a microphone. The nation mobilises for war.”
— Ejder Memis (@_sHx_) 10 June 2019
— Mert Gökçe (@MertGokce) 9 June 2019
— Alfa Rum (@rum_away) 10 June 2019
It’s hard to be a Turk. Because you fight the world
It’s harder not to be a Turk. Because you fight with Turk.
— J3y TüRK 🇹🇷 (@J3yTurk) 9 June 2019
— Ilgar Çakır (@cak_ilgar) 10 June 2019
— Ferhando Jose (@F3RH4ND) 10 June 2019
— ismailnyet (@388Yet) 9 June 2019
— Pugno Verde (@PugnoVerde1963) 9 June 2019
— Harbi CimBomLu 🇹🇷 (@HarbiCimbomLu_) 10 June 2019
Watch Iceland v Turkey, Tuesday 11 June, at 19.45
Turkey faces Iceland in the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers on Tuesday at Laugardalsvollur Stadium in the capital Reykjavik. Turkey leads Group H with nine points while Iceland is joint second with six points.
See the game live on TRT 1. Kick-off is at 7.45pm UK time.