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Posted on on September 8th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

With Turkey so much in the news – mainly in its attempt at becoming more Arab then the Arabs and reseting itself as the leader of the Middle East by picking up the cause of the Palestinians and doing everything possible in order to annoy the Israelis, here comes a very different set of news – Turkey has become the ultimate test case for Austria – sort of who is better suited to play in the European Soccer games championship. Austria needed a win in order to have a chance to survive – in effect a win by two goals – to be accurate. This in a group of States, in the Qualifying games – that included also Germany and Belgium, but also Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan – call it a situation where three members of the EU had been accidentally paired with three Muslim countries on the outskirts of Europe.

The game was scheduled for September 6, 2011, 20:30 or 8:30 PM, at the largest stadium in Austria -that seats 53.000 people. The old, but rather newish looking Ernst Happel Stadium was built between 1929 and 1931 for the second Workers’ Olympiad to the design of German architect Otto Ernst Schweizer. It was called the Prater Stadion until 1992, sometimes also called Wiener Stadion. It is located in Leopoldstadt, the 2nd district of Vienna. The stadium was renamed in honor of Ernst Happel following his death in 1992. Ernst Franz Hermann Happel (29 November 1925 – 14 November 1992) was Austrian –  football-player and coach.

Ernst Happel is regarded as one of the most successful football team-managers ever, winning both league and domestic cup titles in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Austria as well as winning the European Cup twice, the first in 1970 and the second in1983, and a runners-up medal at the 1978 FIFA World Cup. He is the first of three managers to have won the European Cup with 2 different clubs, Ottmar Hitzfeld and Jose Mourinho being the other two. Austria is now desperately looking for a manager that could get close to Happel. These days Austria suffers from manager-collapse and it showed in the games.

I sensed that this will not be just a football game – it really had political implications – so I decided to attend in order to get a sniff at the atmosphere these days – how it is to be a Turkish guest-team in an Austria where there is a large Turkish minority that roots naturally for their country of origin, while pushing for their own position of new Austrians and for Turkey’s acceptance into the EU, while it is known that there is probably a majority in Austria that neither would like to see Turkey in the EU nor like the increase in immigration from Turkey to the EU – this latter being a basic cause for the slow progress in the steps the EU handles this Turkey problem.

I made my move too late – the Stadium was sold out but two well placed gentlemen that I happened to meet – Mr. Walter Weise, Manager of the Sport-facilities of the city of Vienna – that includes the management of the Stadium – and Mr. Peter Klinglmueller, the Head of all the Press and Public Relations of the Austrian Football Association (OEFB), to whom I was introduced by the first gentleman, extended a courtesy ticket to me when I managed to convince them that the evening has real value to me, though I am no professional football reporter.

I came to the Stadium about 6:30 PM and the U-train was all in red – that is people wrapped in the Turkish flag – some with funny hats – all red&white – some with noise making trumpets. When I got off – I saw one flag with a man drawn on it that looked like a Kazakh. I asked – and was told that was Kemal Ataturk.  Interesting as he is no more the real favorite of the present government of Turkey. He was a secular dictator while the present government is moving more and more to the Islamic religion.

When I sat in my seat in Section B, At 7:00 PM, the Turkish team came out to show itself to the crowd that in my corner – a very Turkish corner, was received by the youth with call “Giul” which I assume meant “Goal.” The same Turkish_Austrians in the stands did actually boo when the Austrian team showed up. When it came to playing the National anthems – the Turkish first, the older kids had to tell the younger brothers or cousins to continue to stand up and clap hands at the end. The pro-Turkish partisanship seemed to have taken hold of the younger and less experienced kids. Think for a moment – while the Turkish side showed a team with all on it having Turkish names, the Austrians had also one Turk on their team – EKREM DAG – who used to play for Besiktas, Istambul. The Austrians also had on their team an Austrian player who plays now for Munich – but was the best player on the field at this game – David Olatukunbo Alaba – born in Austria but clearly of West African parentage. I mention this as clear indication that Austria has overcome some of the personal background problems that are capable to create disunity.

I watched the advertisements along the Stadium. They were basically from the companies you would expect: Hyundai, Generali, Raiffeisen Bank (only one bank is my bank), Burgenland for tourism, the arches of McDonald without the name and saying “I’m loving it,” the Kronen Zeitung, Toto, Puma, The City of Vienna etc., but also one single new company – GAZI – which is a Turkish-German company that makes the best Yogurt and cheese. I love it indeed – only that there is not enough chains that carry their products. I bought their yogurt t at Penny’s.

On the negative side of the experience, I must mention just that some people managed to smuggle in firecrackers they used to make noise in an attempt to encourage the Turkish team.

Still during the first half – it became obvious that both teams were not at their best – so the 0-0 final score was no surprise – but it had the effect that the Turkish team loved. This indecision actually was a decision – it hopelessly eliminated Austria from contention to get the second place and the chance to move on to the UEFA EURO games. It left two contenders for that spot – Turkey and Belgium, but looking up the remaining games, it seems to us that Turkey will be the eventual #2 See please the following:
Both Turkey-Belgium games have been played already – and ended in  a Turkish win 3-2  on September 7, 2010, and a draw 1-1 on June 2, 2011. Each team still has two games to play. One of these games is with the tough German team. Both have finished their games with Austria. The other game left for each of them is with the weaker teams Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan.

The tough upcoming games Turkey still has to play is with Germany on October 7, 2011 and Belgium still has to play Germany on October 11, 2011.

These calculations leave in our opinion Turkey with the advantage to qualify for the second spot in group A for the UEFA EURO 2012 games. So this is the way for Turkey to show they are a power in Europe – at least so far as soccer goes.


	Germany		   21   7  0  0  22  3
	Turkey		   14   4  2  2  11  8
	Belgium		   11   3  3  2  16 11
	Austria  	    8   2  2  3  10 10
	Azerbaijan	    7   2  1  5   9 21
	Kazakhstan	    3   1  0  7   5 20
Coming 2012 - Turkey will thus play in the European tournament - Belgium and Austria will stay out. 
On the other hand, Turkey will play in the Middle East political stakes, and it is highly possible 
that most of Europe will be out there.
So why did we say that this was a political game? Turkey got in soccer what it might not get in
geopolitics - or perhaps the soccer will also show the way for how Europe might decide to link to
Turkey in their arena where they play in the Islamic World. We wait to see which will be it.
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