A soccer referee’s decision to toss a bitcoin before the start of a recent match between Istanbul giants Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe has sparked controversy in Turkey. The country’s football authority is trying to establish why a crypto coin was used for the ritual when that role should have been reserved for the Turkish lira.
The latest clash between Istanbul soccer clubs Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe ended in a 1-1 draw but it’s not the tight game that drew the most attention, the Turkish daily Hürriyet wrote in article about the sports event. With photos posted on social media showing the referee flipping a Bitcoin-branded coin, it’s the kick-off ceremony that came to the forefront, the newspaper notes.
Before every soccer match, the referee would flip a coin to determine which team is going to start with the football. The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) is now examining the case as according to its rules, referees are only allowed to use either a 1-lira coin or a special referee coin with one side showing a goalpost, and the other a football.
Former referee Murat Fevzi Tanırlı has been quoted describing the derby’s referee Arda Kardeşler’s coin choice as “monkey tricks.” Tanırlı accused his colleague of besmirching the profession’s reputation, expressed hope the investigation will shed light on his real intention and warned that Kardeşler may be punished for his act. In further comments on the incident, the veteran referee stated:
This is not forgetfulness, it is a move. I really cannot understand why such an experienced referee has scandalized this event.
In statement quoted by Anadolu Agency, the TFF said that Kardeşler flipped a “commemorative Bitcoin” without the knowledge or approval of the federation or Turkey’s Central Refereeing Committee. The 34-year-old, a FIFA-licensed referee with 25 matches in his record this season, is suspected of having signed an agreement with a cryptocurrency platform without the approval of the governing bodies.
Turkish media outlets remark that the kick-off ceremony for the Beşiktaş – Fenerbahçe derby was also covered by many global sports websites, with commentators suggesting that FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football, and UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, may also get involved in the case.
Hürriyet notes that several online shopping websites sell commemorative coins of Bitcoin. The daily also points out that a number of cryptocurrency platforms have signed commercial and sponsorship agreements with sports teams and Turkish athletes have already participated in some of their advertisements in the past few years.
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