Topal targeted as football terror takes on new dimension in Turkey

Topal targeted as football terror takes on new dimension in Turkey
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Published August 12th, 2015 - 21:14 GMT via

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Mehmet Topal
Mehmet Topal

Turkey has recently been dealing with several acts of terrorism, and now the nation's football scene has been shaken by an armed attack targeting Fenerbahçe midfielder Mehmet Topal while he was driving home from training on Tuesday.

An unidentified assailant fired a shot at Topal's car that hit the bullet-proof windshield, which has given rise to speculation about the reason for his choice of a car with this feature.

Topal escaped the attack unhurt. His teammate, Uygar Mert Zeybek, was also in the car when the incident happened.

The motive of the assailant remains unknown, though it is not the first time Fenerbahçe has been the victim of an attack.

A group of people fired shots at the team's bus and threw stones when the bus was on the way to the airport after an away match in the Black Sea province of Trabzon in April. The driver was slightly injured. An investigation of the incident has not been concluded and the identity of the perpetrator is still unknown.

"I don't have problems with anyone. I haven't had any threats. While I was driving, I heard a sharp noise and then I understood that it was a gunshot. I don't know who did this or why," Topal said in his initial statements to the police.

Turkey is waking up to a terror incident every day and dozens of police and army members have lost their lives in recent terrorist attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK); therefore, every new attack raises safety concerns.

The Homicide Bureau of the Police Department has taken over the investigation of the Topal incident. Investigators are considering possibilities that include a terrorist attack or a mafia-related incident. The police reportedly believe that Topal was targeted directly and that it was not simply to scare him off. According to his statement to the police, the midfielder pulled over on the right-hand side of the road immediately after the shooting and thought that he saw the car carrying the assailant though he failed to note down its license plate number. He then called the police.

Roadside cameras recorded a vehicle that is believed to have been used to commit the attack and the police are looking for the people in it at the time.

No league postponement

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) does not plan to move the Super League's kickoff to a later date due to this incident.

The Fenerbahçe-Eskişehirspor match will kick off the new season on Friday as planned. The national football organization condemned the recent Topal attack, citing it as an act against Turkish football and urging the authorities to find the assailant as soon as possible.

In a statement released on the club's website following the attack, Fenerbahçe called the incident an armed terrorist incident and noted that it is rather questionable as well as meaningful that the April attack in Trabzon remains unsolved. "We once again call on all state authorities to cast light upon the terrorist incidents we have experienced," the statement said.

It also highlighted that assumptions that Topal might have enemies based on the fact that his car has bullet-proof glass are totally incorrect. The club said it is a standard feature of Topal's model of Mercedes, and that the player did not specifically seek to purchase a model with that type of glass.

Youth and Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç, Trabzonspor and former Fenerbahçe captain Alex de Souza all extended their sympathies to the player following the incident.

By Esra Maden

Copyright © 2015 Cihan News Agency. All right reserved.

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