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  • Jacob Sweetman: The death knells…


Jacob Sweetman: The death knells…

Türkiyemspor is slipping away. The Xberger football club has often stood for all the good things about Kreuzberg, Berlin and integration. Now, in insolvency, they are fighting a bigger fight than the ones they face on the pitch.

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Photo by Ian Stenhouse

Death knells, however, are beginning to ring out for the club. If one could play the last post on a zurna, then they no doubt would. If one could fit a sports club with multiple age groups spread across the genders into a box, then maybe someone would be hammering away in Kreuzberg at the oddly shaped sarcophagus now.

Türkiyemspor are in insolvency. They are, in a word used more frequently by my colleague, Amok Mama, fucked, but still they let others brag about the good work that they do in their community, instead of using it as a badge of “lookhowgoodwearesobuymyproducts“ in the finest tradition of Bono and his chums. Türkiyem’ should go on about their good work a hell of a lot more.

Maybe that is a tad dramatic. Due to the insolvency proceedings, the club isn’t allowed to comment on the amount of money owed, or to whom, but they have said that the first team, currently fighting gamely (but struggling) towards the foot of the Oberliga Nord would be the first to face the inevitable cutbacks.

The intention is to keep them in the league for the rest of the season, but nobody seems to know if this is at all likely. Relegation to the sixth tier looms, even if they turn around their fortunes on the pitch. The kid’s and women’s teams would still preserve the name of the club, fingers crossed.

According to the Tagesspiegel, however, the total amount owed is just over €600,000, with some of that due to former benefactors and board members. This is really a pittance. It is just over two weeks wages for Carlos Tevez, just under for Leo Messi.

In the face of longstanding moral indignation about the amount of money that footballers earn, I will readily stand up for most of them. After all, if clubs are willing to pay obscene money for grown men to kick a ball around – and reap the rewards in sponsorship, TV money and the glorious sounds of tills ringing in F.C. megastores the world over – then who really thinks that they should turn it down? The problem doesn’t necessarily lie with them.

However if Michael Ballack were to give a week’s wages to help save this institution then we would all have a different opinion of the man. If Lukas Podolski were to empty out his jar of change onto the bed and find that there is a few grand to spare, and used it for something good – for football and society in general – then we would surely approve. If the city were to help waive, or postpone the debts owed due to Türkiyem’ having to play at the Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark (a ludicrous place for them to be, with 20,000 plus empty seats at every home game), then we could forgive them some of the responsibility for the grotesque Schloss that is to be rebuilt as a paean to the former glories of a regime with such ludicrous taste that they make Elton John look demur in his furnishing choices.

Türkiyemspor aren’t alone in the chaos being reaped across semi-pro and amateur football in Germany – indeed across the globe. Tennis Borussia found themselves in insolvency last year, and few were there to bail them out either, but Türkiyemspor do represent an ideal of integration and of helping out the poorest communities in the city. Everything possible should be done to make sure that they can keep afloat.