From Berkin to Alexis: Cup of Resistance

The Cup of Resistance organized last Sunday (March 13) with the participation of Spartakistanbul, mix of Efendi League* and Gazoz League** İstanbul United, Karadolapspor, and Asteras Exarchion from Greece ended.

Exarchion is the region where 15-year-old student Alexis Grigoropoulos was shot to dead by police, which created a great uproar in the country and eventually spread to whole Europe.


As Asteras Exarchion wins the cup by beating Karadolapspor 4-2 in the final, all participant teams were given a cup.

Supporters and football players saying “Football is beautiful on streets, not on stockmarket” had a lovely Sunday at the organization held in protest of industrial football, racism, sexism, hate speech, and all sorts of discrimination.

Tournament organizer and Spartakistanbul player, Cihan Çabuk says such organizations form resistance points against capitalism and will spread in time.

Asteras players speaking to bianet expressed their will to come again, even they are not invited.

Karadolapspor President, Çayan Dursun in response to question how these leagues and solidarity came intoexistence points to Gezi protests and adds, “We shouldn’t give up the fight”.

Çabuk: We aim to create resistance points against capitalism

How did the idea of organizing this event come into existence?

We went there [Exarchion] two years ago and asked them to come here. We considered a resistance cup over Berkin [Elvan] and Alexis [Grigoropoulos]. I hope it becomes traditional, our dream is to increasingly grow it.

How do you plan to expand it?

We are planning to expand it by combining football and activism with alternative teams from abroad.

Are there certain clubs in your mind?

There are some clubs in Turkey, one of them is Spartak Lecce. There is an anti-racist football torunament in Bologna, Italy. We will try to attend it this yet. Our goal is to organize a much larger scaled tournament.

This structure as far as I understand is not against only industrial football; it also includes a discourse against hate speech, racism, sexism…

I believe that is the main emphasis. The Cup of Resistance indeed holds a stance against industrial football but mainly against racism, environmental damage, hate speech. We aim to create resistance points against capitalism.

Can you receive a recompense for these efforts, what sort of feedbacks do you receive?

Both yes and no. It is ‘no’ because it is very hard to receive immediate recompense. First of all, the game itself needs to be democratised, we sometimes neglect the game. That will take time, we needed to be insistent and stubborn at this point. I think resistance points will be created as a result of this insistance. We’ve realized it to an extent with Gazoz League and Efendi League

At what level is participation of women?

Now women are playing in our leagues. There are three or four in Efendi League, and four or five Karşı League. There will be women in Gazoz League next year. It is increasing every year.

Do you experience problems of demotivation in this process?

Of course, for instance all dissident press should have been here. This is a very valuable organizaiton. Social opposition circles of the country have to take more interest in it.

I think more radicalization is needed, it should be moved away from mainstream football. For instance, I used to be a Beşiktaş fan, I still follow it but not now I am a fan of Spartak, Exarchion. This is indeed difficult, we all have some attachment we bring from our past but we can do it.

Given what you said, can we deduce that we need to shift from supporting clubs to supporting football itself?

Yes, exactly. Let us create our own clubs, be fans of them. Let us compete, but also make this concept meaningful. Let us win, desire to win but produce proper answers to how we do that. We want to make a revolution, why shouldn’t we want to win? However, we will be ethical. Thus, we can build a true supportiveness.

Asteras: We will come even without invitation

Asteras Exarchion players noting the torunament has been a very nice experience stated that they will come again even if they are not invited.

The players saying they already join some other tournaments abroad, expressed their will for such organizations to grow and spread.

About Exarcheia

Exarcheia is the name of a neighborhood in downtown Athens, Greece. the region is famous as a home for Greek anarchists. It took the name from a merchant named Exarchos (Greek: Έξαρχος) who opened a large general store there.

Role of Exarcheia in Greek riots

The 2008 Greek riots started on 6 December 2008, when Alexandros Grigoropoulos a 15-year-old Greek student, was killed by two police officers in Exarcheia district of central Athens. The murder of a young student by police resulted in large protests and demonstrations, which escalated to widespread rioting, with numerous rioters damaging property and engaging riot police with molotov cocktails, stones and other objects. Demonstrations and rioting soon spread to several other cities, including Thessaloniki, the country’s second-largest city. Outside Greece, solidarity demonstrations, riots and, in some cases, clashes with local police also took place in more than 70 cities around the world, including London, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Dublin, Berlin, Frankfurt, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, The Hague, Copenhagen, Bordeaux.

Dursun: Football beatiful on street, not on stockmarket

Çayan Dursun, the President of Karadolapspor which has problems with local administrations and federation because of its dissident stand, underline the importance of Gezi protest.

“The organization has been important in terms of solidarity among peoples. It is important to increase such voices in the country, however, I believe this process has started with the Gezi protests. This sphere abandoned by leftists have been occupied following the Gezi. There are examples like us but I believe it needs to increase”.

Do you think it is on the increase?

“Of course it is. Especially, the ones who were remaining silent till now have started to express themselves, to form fan groups. This is a sphere open to expansion and it is gradually expanding, but we shouldn’t give up the fight. 

Dursun expressing they are having certain problems with local administrations and the federation, stated that they want to sustain their philosophy that “football is beautiful on street, not on stockmarket”. (TK)

* Efendi means gentle person

** Gazoz means soda water. Soda water is widely used as a metaphor to be given to winner team at the end of the games, mostly played on the streets, because of its low price. It is a reference to desire for non-industrialized football