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Row over PCR tests sends Galatasaray back home, cancel match in Athens

A dispute over coronavirus procedures led to cancellation of a friendly football game between Turkish Galatasaray and Greek Olympiakos and turned political on Monday. Galatasaray claims “discrimination, rude and unfair treatment by Greek officials at the airport, Greek authorities claim procedures against the Covid-19 by the book.

The dispute started when players of Galatasaray arrived at Athens International Airport Monday evening and were told that the molecular PCR tests were not valid and had to undergo Rapid tests.

Citing Greek officials, media noted that the travel protocol between Greece demands a PCR test of 24 hours prior to arrival.

The GS delegation refused to have Rapid tests, the situation escalated, and the team remained for two hours at the airport before it flew back to Istanbul.

“They were not given even water,” the Turkish team complained and added that the reason for the match cancellation and the flying back home was that Greek officials did not accept their negative PCR tests.

The football club accused Greece of violating human rights and demanded an apology.

“Galatasaray, the club that carries Turkish flag on its jersey with great pride and represents Turkey in Europe many times, have been disrespected like this for the first time. We expect an apology on our country’s behalf from Greek officials for their treatment that was against human rights,” the club said.

Turkey’s youth and sports minister condemned Greece, the foreign minister and the football body (TFF) reportedly reprimanded Greek authorities for their manners against Galatasaray.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on social media “malignant and unsportsmanlike treatment that Galatasaray faced in Greece cannot be accepted. We always stand by all of our teams!” He said that he contacted his counterpart Nikos Dendias.

On the part of Greece, head of Civil Protection and Deputy Minister for Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias said Tuesday’s friendly was not taking place in the context of an international event with an approved entry protocol, so all those arriving were subject to sampling PCR or rapid testing.

He said in a statement that the Turkish team refused to undergo a rapid test in accordance with Greek legislation. “Given their refusal, the members of the mission were not allowed to enter our country, by my order,” he said.

He posted on Twitter: “In Greece and in Civil Protection procedures there are no discount in health issues, the laws apply without exceptions. In Greece, member of the EU, human rights are fully respected.”

PS Now the usual mean Greeks recall the recent report claiming that it was the Civil Protection that allowed players of Turkish Fenebahce with fever through without quarantine in October 2020.

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One comment

  1. The arrival of the Fenerbahce basketball team was in the context of an international event with an approved entry protocol. Plus the fact there was absolutely no proof about the “fever” claim made by an airport official. Probably he was a Panathinaïkos supporter.