Istanbul Derbies – An Appetizer

Many sources claim that the loudest and arguably craziest football supporters are based in Turkey, Istanbul to be more precise. In a city where rivalries dominate derby days, Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray seem to have found the magic formula for record-breaking noise levels and support that truly does not seem to die. Shots & Goals have therefore decided to take a closer look at these three rivals and their stadiums below.


As the name suggests, the club are based in Istanbul’s trendy European neighbourhood of Besiktas, with their stadium decorating the Bosphorus sea front. The stadium was once referred to as the most beautiful in the world by none other than Brazilian legend Pele. Currently under construction, Besiktas’ home ground will soon be renamed Vodafone Arena and will boast a glass roof amongst other ultra-modern perks.


The club started the season in strong fashion but have failed to live up to the fans’ expectations by losing to Konyaspor last Monday, thus confirming their failure to win a first league title since 2009. The club’s ultras, known as Carsi 23, will have to spend the summer in disappointment yet again and ponder as to whether the new stadium will bring new fortunes.


Out of the three big clubs in Istanbul, Fenerbahce is the one based on the Asian side of the city. Located in the Kadikoy district, the 19-time champions are the current holders and are still in with a chance of winning a record-breaking 20th title this season, although the same applies to arch-rivals Galatasaray.


Based at Sukru Saracoglu Stadium, Fener are known for potentially violent supporters, but also for some of the most loyal support one may find across the football world. The stadium is amongst the finest in the country and benefits from regular renovations, the most recent one coming earlier this year.


This is arguably Turkey’s best-known football club, probably due to some of the club’s European success such as winning the 2000 UEFA Cup after beating Arsenal in the final. Referred to as Cimbom by its loyal support, the club are also known for the world’s loudest sport team support (previously held by Besiktas fans), with roars peaking at just over 135 dBA.


Galatasaray have been based at Turk Telekom Arena since 2011, a stadium that was even mentioned in Tom Clancy’s 2012 novel Threat Factor. The arena has served them well and offers more than twice as much space as the previous home ground, the Ali Sami Yen Stadium.

With these three giants around, the Super Lig will always have the benefit of at least six passion-filled Istanbul derbies per season. Due to positive developments and new stadiums being built, these contests now enjoy a more suitable stage. Amongst these derbies are the only inner-city ones that span across two continents whenever Fenerbahce are involved. That makes this city truly unique in a football context. On a different note, Turkish clubs will be hoping for more European success, especially given the investments made in facilities. Only time will tell as to whether such investments will bear any fruit, but the Istanbul fans will certainly stick around, no matter what.