TFF invests significantly in safety & stadium development nationwide
Overarching themes during the visits in Turkey were the league-wide approaches to stadium development and stadium operations, with a focus on safety & security. It seems that several initiatives, launched in 2012-2013, start to pay off.
LEAGUE-WIDE APPROACH TO SAFETY & SECURITY
The Turkish Football Federation has taken measures to improve the overall safety in Turkish stadiums. In 2013, they officially introduced the Passolig system. Thanks to the Passolig system, it has become necessary to officially register with your ID card or passport if you want to buy tickets for a match in Turkey. You will only be able to buy a ticket once you are registered in the system and have received your Passolig card. When you arrive at the stadium your Passolig card is scanned and facial recognition cameras will verify your identity. Every stadium in the first division has been fitted with facial recognition cameras under a league-initiative to support this system.
Incidents in stadiums have decreased since the system was introduced and according the stadium managers we visited during our stay in Turkey, the stadiums have become more family-friendly. Furthermore, the individual stadiums and clubs commented that they have developed a good relation with their local authorities (cities) and are cooperating to provide a safe stadium environment were stewards and police work together hand in hand.
The Turkish Football Federation is also providing educational courses for stewards on a regular basis and has implemented a matchday operation center and a centralised accreditation system in the federation’s building so that they can have total control should an incident ever occur on a matchday.
35 STADIUM DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS ACROSS THE NATION
Regarding stadium development, a national development project for sports facilities has been founded in 2012 and is lead by the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKI). The goal of this project is the provide the nation with modern sports facilities both for professional sports and recreational sports. The original plan consisted of developing 18 new stadiums and arenas. However, currently there are 35 developing project (which could potentially be raised to 81 in the near future).
While each club and each stadium within the project is treated individually, there is a clear structure that is used for each development. The old stadium site is sold and redeveloped for community use (housing, commercial facilities, educational facilities…). This is meant to help fund the construction of the new stadium. After preliminary research to determine the correct capacity and type of stadium for each individual club, the stadium is constructed on a new site (which is often already owned by the government). The club then gets to operate the stadium and pays the government an annual fee to rent the stadium.
Türk Telekom Arena and Mersin Arena were the first two large projects planned across the country by TOKİ. The overall plan is to establish modern sports infrastructure for each province. Not necessarily of the highest quality, but built efficiently and meeting the demand. Most of the new stadiums will hold between 25,000 and 40,000, which seems to fit the needs of most clubs in the long run. Some of the new projects will also include other sports facilities around the stadium, like an indoor sports hall, swimming pools or other (smaller) amenities. These investments will serve their purpose over the next 50 years for the local communities and will help Turkey attract large (sports) events.