In defence of Arda Turan

As news of the clash between Arda Turan and a Turkish journalist broke around the world, the reaction from some quarters will have been little more than a shrug. It’s happened before and it is likely to happen again.

This latest incident, which has caused the Barcelona midfielder to retire from international football, is just the latest in several clashes with the media in his home nation.

Last summer there was a similar theme during Euro 2016. After an abject tournament from Turkey, Fatih Terim’s team were facing scrutiny, none more so than Turan.

Not only did he find himself booed by his own fans in a 3-0 defeat to Spain in the group stages, he also faced criticism from the country’s media.

Terim himself described the whole thing as ‘nasty’, stating that ‘they’, presumably the press, exaggerate and invent stories and scenarios. Turan later hit out at those who had openly panned him, warning he would ‘hold them to account’.

“You can’t talk about people’s character and family values. Someone will remember this. I thanked some journalists who criticise my football. This is their job. But you can’t attack my family and my values, I will not allow this for as long as I can.”

Arda Turan

That is exactly what he appears to have done, with reports claiming he confronted a journalist from Milliyet over certain stories written last summer.

If those reports are to be believed, it was more than just a few stern words between the pair. Only the intervention of others seems to have stopped it being worse.

And while that’s unforgivable, there is some justification to Turan’s actions. The events of last summer had clearly pushed him to an edge, especially where the press is concerned.

This time last year it was open season in the headlines, with Turan bearing the brunt for his teams overall poor showings. Yet, it was not his performances that were the basis of the criticism. Instead, his personality, his values and everything in between came under the spotlight.

That simply is not fair. Why is it acceptable in football media to attack a player for anything other than his efforts or skill on the pitch?

For a while now, a player’s performances have not been the headline, rather his personality or his work ethic is the primary line of attack for a journalist, columnist or analyst.

At some point, somebody was going to do something in retaliation; Turan is that man and he was justified in doing so. As he has stated in his own response, criticism of his football is perfectly fine. It’s when it goes beyond that when he will have a problem.

If the journalists want to take it into such territory, he has a right to respond to it. It’s only fair, they should be accountable for what they say.

It’s something that Jamie Carragher, a respected pundit in the UK these days, agrees with. Last week he found himself confronted by Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge after making remarks earlier in the season. The striker had every right to do so as far as he’s concerned.

Turan was equally right to protect himself in this scenario. He should be praised for doing the opposite and standing up for his beliefs, especially after the way he’s been treated.

Sure, his actions in this circumstance were too far and violence or threatening behaviour is never acceptable. Of that, there is no debate. To criticise him for standing up for himself would be wrong though, it’s about time more footballers did the same.


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