SPORTS

Trouble-free match expected

ISTANBUL – Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim doesn’t expect any trouble in the Champions League match against Olympiakos today, despite a history of tension between the two countries. «Football doesn’t know the Cyprus issue or the continental shelf issue and doesn’t care about air space violations in the Aegean Sea,» said Terim yesterday, referring to some of the issues of tension between Turkey and Greece. «The beauty of soccer should be reflected in politics.» Turkey and Greece have come to the verge of war three times since 1974 and those tensions have previously spilled into the stadium. Both teams are also without points in the Champions League, raising the possibility of an emotionally charged game tonight. In a bid to avoid any trouble, Olympiakos turned down seats for fans ahead of the game. Galatasaray also won’t send fans to Greece next month when the two clubs play again. But Turkish officials said there is no ban against Greek fans buying tickets for the game in Istanbul. Terim downplayed the possibility of trouble. Last October, Turkish and Greek fans hurled bottles and taunted each other with signs and banners at a UEFA Cup game between Fenerbahce and Panathinaikos – the first-ever competitive soccer match between teams from the two countries. Fans also threw pieces of plastic chairs and bottles at the countries’ foreign ministers, who had hoped the match would serve as an example of a recent warming of relations. Galatasaray spokesman Turgay Vardar said he expected few Olympiakos fans in Istanbul and pointed to a history of friendly relations between the two teams. Last year, the two clubs signed an Olympic Truce – a document supporting peace for the Olympic Games. They also played a hitch-free friendly in Istanbul in which Galatasaray won 2-0. Still, both clubs have recently been fined by UEFA for missile-firing in the Champions League, and aren’t taking any chances about crowd trouble. Around 5,000 police are expected to patrol Istanbul’s Olympic Stadium, and security inside will be tight, an Istanbul police spokesman said. And a stadium of screaming, hooting Galatasaray fans might just be what Galatasaray needs against the Greek first division leaders. Galatasaray, lying third in the Turkish league, will play without midfielder Hasan Sas because of a red card during the game against Spain’s Real Sociedad last month. Dutch national star Frank de Boer is also injured but Terim said he was likely to play. Defenders Orhan Ak and Gabriel Tamas and midfielders Umit Karan and Volkan Arslan are all suffering injuries and aren’t expected to play. But a broken nose isn’t expected to sideline star striker Hakan Sukur, who scored on a penalty shot to lead Galatasaray to a 1-0 victory against Rizespor on Friday. Olympiakos reports no serious injuries. «The important thing is what we do on the field,» Terim said. «Our players and our fans are going out together at the Olympic Stadium. And we’re going to do the maximum to win.»