Eskisehirspor have been nominated for the FIFA Fair Play award for their participation in the UEFA Europa League qualifying round matches against Scottish side St Johnstone.
The nomination of the Turkish club Eskisehirspor and its fans stands out because it was made by the fans of the opposing team, the Scottish club St Johnstone. The Scots were highly impressed not only with the extremely friendly reception they received at their away game, but also with the very sporting behaviour of the Turkish team.
It was the first time in more than a decade that either side had participated in European competition. Prior to the first leg, dignitaries from the Turkish side met St Johnstone chairman Steve Brown at the airport in Turkey. Then, fans from both sides mingled in the city centre, contributing to a lively and friendly atmosphere leading up to the match.
During the first leg, Frazer Wright went down injured for St Johnstone and Eskisehirspor went on the attack, forcing a corner. As the corner came when St Johnstone were down to ten men, Dede of Eskisehirspor knocked the ball out, giving the ball straight back to the Scottish side.
Following the hospitality and Fair Play during the first leg, St Johnstone made arrangements to host the travelling Turkish fans in a local sports bar and complimentary transport was provided to the stadium.
Paul Smith, football administrator at St Johnstone, said: “I believe that the fact that neither club are regular participants in European competition, ensured that the supporters made the most of the occasion, forming some long-term friendships.
“However, there is no doubt that this was only possible because of the friendly welcome received by our supporters in Eskisehir.”