Turkey sheds hard stance on standing sections



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Turkey Safe Standing Image: mlssoccer.com

After years of the all-seater rule, Turkey has finally opened up to the idea of allowing regular standing sections. The country no longer has a close-minded approach on standing areas. Following legal changes from 2019 and early 2020, stadia in the country can now operate also without individual seats in some areas.

From January this year, Turkey has officially jumped on the bandwagon of countries which don’t have the all-seater requirement. It now joins Germany, Austria, Poland, Scandinavia and Switzerland where regular standing sections are allowed (while more strict use of safe standing is also permitted in other countries).

Law No. 7182 of 2019 led to the change in policy. While the piece of legislation is very controversial for its authoritarian aspect (expanding match day policing and penalties), it also changed the definition of individual place in the stadium to no longer only define individual seat but also a numbered portion of the stand itself.

In mid-January this year, the governing body of association football in Turkey – Turkish Football Federation (TFF) – completed the process by modifying criterion No. 117 of its infrastructural regulations. Instead of ‘all seated’ it now reads ‘all seated or standing’ (subject to approval by the Ministry of Youth and Sports). This applies to the all four professional leagues.

It now means that clubs and local authorities can remove seats or deliver new stadia sans the seats, of course with the proviso – in designated areas only.

The Turkish sports club Göztepe’s, whose football facility Gürsel Aksel Stadium opened recently, is a case in point.

Göztepe wanted to deliver their new venue (in the city of Izmir in Turkey) without seats behind the south goal, however, TFF changes came too late not to install any seats for the opening game. Temporary seats have been placed behind the goal, to be removed soon. With this move, the arena will be able to fit in 5,000 more spectators – its capacity will grow from the present 20,000 to 25,000.

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