Soccer authorities in Turkey may have hit on the perfect solution for unruly fans: Ladies Night!
The Turkish Football Federation had planned to make Istanbul favorite Fenerbahce play two games in an empty stadium after fans invaded the pitch after a friendly against Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk during the summer, according to a Turkish Weekly report.
But new rules say those games will be open only to women and children under age 12, National Turk reports. Admission is free.
The policy got its first test Tuesday night in Istanbul, as 45,000 women and children turned out to watch Fenerbahce and Manisaspor face off in the Turkish Super League.
“It was such a fun and pleasant atmosphere. At first, we Manisaspor players couldn’t believe in what we were seeing and hearing,” Manisaspor midfielder Ömer Aysan is quoted as saying by National Turk.
What they were hearing was something unexpected in the usual partisan atmosphere of Fenerbahce Istanbul’s Sükrü Saracoglu stadium: cheers for the visiting team.
Players from both teams greeted their female fans before kickoff, tossing flowers into the stands, Turkish Weekly reported.
Security was tight, according to Turkish Weekly, with a female-only guard force outside checking to see that no men entered the stadium.
The game ended in a 1-1 draw, but that didn't dampen enthusiasm for the idea.
“This memory will stay with me forever. It’s not always that you see so many women and children in one game,” Fenerbahce captain Alex de Sousa said at a post-game news conference, National Turk reported.