UPDATE 3-Soccer-Turkish Super Cup final in Riyadh postponed amid row

Istanbul clubs insisted on wearing Ataturk t-shirts in warm-up

Turkish media said Saudi officials rejected clubs' demands

Unclear where or when final will now be played

Turkish soccer rocked this month by punching of referee

Recasts with joint statement from clubs, federation

By Daren Butler

- The Turkish Super Cup final between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce scheduled to be played in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh on Friday was postponed over what the clubs described as "some problems" in the event's organisation.

At the heart of those issues, according to media reports, was the wish of the two Istanbul teams to wear t-shirts featuring the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, during the warm-up ahead of the evening kick-off.

Turkish media said Saudi officials had rejected this demand, though it was not clear why, and that the clubs refused to play in the Super Cup final at the King Saud University venue, which is also known as Al-Awwal Park stadium, as a result.

The match coincides with the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the secular Turkish Republic. There was no immediate comment from Saudi officials.

"The 2023 Super Cup ... has been postponed to a later date as a result of a joint decision we made with our clubs, due to some problems in its organisation," the two clubs and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) said in a joint statement, issued on social medial platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

It was not clear where or when the final would be staged. The statement also thanked Saudi Arabia's football federation and authorities for the efforts they made to organise the event.

There has also been media reports that Turkey's national anthem and flag would not be allowed at the final but the TFF earlier said they would feature.


WARMING TIES

The incident came amid a recent warming of relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia in July amid efforts to repair ties that were ruptured after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.

The cancellation of the final added to what has been a controversy-filled month for Turkish soccer.

The president of top-tier club Ankaragucu, Faruk Koca, was arrested on Dec. 12 for punching a referee in the face at the end of a match. The TFF imposed a permanent ban on Koca and also sanctioned Ankaragucu.

The Turkish league was temporarily suspended due to the violence and when it resumed Istanbulspor walked off the pitch in protest at a refereeing decision in a Super Lig game against Trabzonspor. The game was then abandoned.


(Reporting by Daren Butler and Tommy Lund; editing by Nick Macfie and Ken Ferris)

((daren.butler@tr.com; +90-212-350 7053; Reuters Messaging: daren.butler.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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