A dark and distressing truth hides behind Manchester United’s Champions League tie with Turkish side Galatasaray. Football is sadly no longer just a game of football, with bad blood existing between English and Turkish football teams.
Tragedy struck in 2000 – when two Leeds United supporters (Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight) were viciously stabbed and subsequently died, following an altercation in the streets of Istanbul. It was an incident that shook the world of football – ahead of the Uefa Cup Semi-Final first leg between Galatasaray and Leeds United.
The match is not without it’s own history. In 1993, more than 200 Manchester United fans were arrested in Istanbul and many more were refused entry into Ali Sami Yen Stadium, which Turkish fans refer to as “hell”. Hell indeed, as today threatening claims have been made towards both Manchester United and Leeds United fans on twitter – with Turkish fanatics warning that any Manchester United and Leeds United fans will be killed if they cause trouble. It comes as sickening and distressing news to fans who simply love football for being football. Such disrespect and animosity should not exist between fans across Europe.
In all walks of life, the saying ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ should echo true more so than ever. Despite twelve years of anguish and heartbreak for Leeds United fans, some fanatics have decided to make the trip to Lancashire to possibly seek clarity or revenge, with the only club that Leeds fan hold in less regard than Manchester United. Whilst bad blood exists between both United’s, a sense of hope flows dauntingly through my body, that in no circumstances fans from all three teams clash tonight.
Twelve years of hate have affected those close to Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight – who I know will hope, that red is not the colour pouring in the streets of Manchester. Rivalries on the pitch are traditional, rivalries off the pitch are the darkest demons that still surround the beautiful game.