By Mehmet Bahadir/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Turkish Basketball Federation president Hedo Turkoglu blasted the officiating of the most recent games (two losses to Sweden and Latvia) Turkey gave for the World Cup Qualifiers, while heavily criticizing FIBA Europe and going as far as saying that there might be “malice” against Turkish basketball.
Here’s what Turkoglu said to Anadolu Agency:
On the defeats of Turkey in February’s Window of the World Cup Qualifiers:
“We saw those mistakes made by the referees during the last two games of the Turkish national team. They (the mistakes) started in EuroBasket 2017. We are talking about huge mistakes, which had not been made before. The game against Sweden was officiated by a Latvian referee. Latvia is also in our group. We saw this for the very first time. Nothing like that happened in 64 games played in the qualifiers. After that, we saw a home team supported by the referees. The margin between the number of fouls given to each side was incredibly high. We have never expected anything from the referees but I found that it meant something that these unusual mistakes happened in our games. These are unacceptable mistakes. It now feels like malice. There are some people who do not want our success.
On the relationship between the Federation and FIBA Europe:
“We tried to pursue having good relations with FIBA after taking the office. However, I would like to state that this period (the February FIBA Window) has made both me and all the staff uneasy. Not calling what was a 100% foul on Ali Muhammed in the last possession against Sweden or appointing a wrong referee is not the kind of matters where you can say “Excuse us” and everything gets “OK”. We do not want our relationship with FIBA to be hurt with such wrong issues. I think an action must be taken regarding FIBA Europe Referees Director Davorin Nakic and somebody else must take the office. We will be reviewing our relationship with FIBA until our requests get answered. After such a period (the February FIBA Window), we are not willing to host any FIBA Europe organization. Everyone can make sure that I will be sending letters to our clubs with the same perspective as well.
“People have to acknowledge certain things. We are a federation that wants to build concrete relationships with everybody. But no one can expect us to stay silent in front of some issues. I do not want to talk about individuals. You know, there is the FIBA Europe president. I do not want to say that, ‘these are his actions.’ I, along with my staff, do what I am supposed to do as the president of the federation in order to improve our country’s basketball. All we expect from them is to not stop us (from doing so).”
On FIBA Europe president and former Turkish Basketball Federation president Turgay Demirel:
“You should make a question about this to Turgay Demirel, who was the president of TBF (Turkish Federation) and is now the president of FIBA Europe, before doing that question to us. Why does Turkish basketball face such barriers? Why are the only wrong referee appointments happening to Turkey and why are we exposed to such wrong calls? You should ask these questions to them.
“We do not want any help from anybody. Thankfully, we are the best in Europe in terms of both ruling the federation and our organization. We do not have any problems with anybody. I keep in touch with FIBA Secretary General Mr. Patrick Baumann and EuroLeague Basketball President Mr. Jordi Bertomeu. Turkish basketball hosts the best league in Europe with its clubs. We have serious goals with our national team. Our first goal is to qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. We just wanted to share this injustice with the public. These mistakes are not supposed to be called as small ones.
On the future of the Turkish national team in the World Cup Qualifiers:
“We had won our first two games in the group but we could not preserve our advantage in the last two games. We will play the last two games at the end of June. Hopefully, two wins in those games will give us another advantage once we merge with the next group. We support coach Ufuk Sarica and his staff just like the very first day. We say that he and his staff are a great selection for us in every occasion. Him improving himself and the confidence he provides to the players give us hope. There are winning and losing in sports. Yet, we see that we made a true choice in every aspect. Hopefully, we can win our last two games and get the advantage again.”