Euro 2020: France vs Turkey, a Match Stretched on all Levels

Euro 2020 Football
The coach of France, Didier Deschamps in press conference at the Stade de France, October 13, 2019.

In a sensitive diplomatic and security context, the French team wants to take revenge on Turkey on Monday at the Stade de France. A victory would qualify France

Red alert in Saint-Denis. Vexed by the slap of Konya, the world champions have a revenge to take on the Turks, Monday, October 14, 2019 (at 20:45) at the Stade de France where a tide of supporters are expected in a context of sports, security and diplomacy sensitive.

On the field, the fight promises to be intense between two nations very close to qualify for the Euro 2020. France will have their ticket in the pocket if they win, but also in case of a draw or even defeat if their pursuers stall.

However, the extra context parasitic a match made sensitive by the memory of the sulphurous France-Turkey of 2009, on the one hand, and by the diplomatic tensions between Paris and Ankara, on the other hand.

“The geopolitical problems, they are there”

Wednesday’s release by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of a military operation against a Kurdish militia in Syria sparked an international outcry. France has denounced a “unilateral offensive” and suspended its arms sales to Turkey. And in Paris, several demonstrations in support of the Kurds of Syria have already taken place this weekend.

“The geopolitical problems, they are there. That this has consequences? Of course, in the environment of the match. But we will not think of that, “said coach Bleus Didier Deschamps.

Turkish fans during the Euro 2020 qualifier against France in Konya on June 8, 2019.
Turkish fans during the Euro 2020 qualifier against France in Konya on June 8, 2019. (© AFP / Archives / FRANCK FIFE)

“They have a fervour, a passion maybe exacerbated”

At the Stade de France, the attitude of the French authorities will be scrutinized in the official gallery, where should take place the Turkish Minister of Justice and the ambassador in Paris, according to a Turkish diplomatic source.

Supporters of Turkey are expected in large numbers. They will be 3800 in a park sales visitors sold out, according to the French Federation, and certainly much more elsewhere, among the 78 000 spectators announced in total.

“We have heard that 40,000 fans will be there (…), I think it will be like a home game,” said AFP Cagri Davran, a journalist for the Turkish sports newspaper Fanatik.

There were more than 300,000 Turkish voters registered in France in the legislative elections of November 2015.

“It’s true that Turkish fans are moving in numbers, they have a fervour, a passion may be exacerbated”, but “we will not count how much they are,” retorts Deschamps.

The Turkish footballers did not hesitate to tie sport and politics, when they celebrated Friday their victory against Albania by performing a military salute, in support of the soldiers engaged in the offensive.

“I do not want these discussions to take precedence over the match, said Sunday the Turkish coach Senol Günes.

“We encourage our soldiers, but I am against any kind of violence.”

“What’s happening in Syria is one thing, the match is something else”

The previous opposition between the two teams on French soil, ten years ago in Lyon, ended in confusion, interrupted a few minutes after the throwing of projectiles and smoke at the Stade Gerland.

“I hope they will be in a spirit of brotherhood,” Senol Günes said of Turkish fans.

“What happens in Syria is one thing, the game is something else,” tried to reassure the Turkish ambassador Ismail Hakki Musa, questioned by AFP on the possibility of tensions between pro or anti-Kurdish Turkish supporters on the sidelines of the meeting.

“Although there may be overlaps, provocations, we will try to avoid it.”

Enhanced security

Monday, for this game ranked at risk, the prefecture has provided a “general security device to prevent disturbances to public order before, during and after the meeting.”

At the Stade de France, the security forces were also increased (1400 against 1200 usually).

On the pitch, four months after sinking into the fury of Konya (2-0 defeat), the Blues want to “set the record straight,” said striker Olivier Giroud.

Read also: Euro 2020: Belgium first qualified

France Football Team
French team. (© AFP /)

“It’s an opportunity to show another face”

“This is an opportunity to show another face and in front of our audience to qualify,” said Captain Raphael Varane.

But Turkey, Co-leader group H with France, will have the same ambition and wants to “make a very good performance,” according to Senol Günes.

The Turkish coach will, however, be deprived of his captain Emre Belözoglu, as Deschamps de Lloris, unavailable until 2020.

The Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda will be renewed behind a defence where Lucas Hernandez, spared Friday in Iceland, could make his return. Often presented as a “warrior” by his teammates, he would not be too much on the pitch.

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