Turkish fans spotted parading the Azerbaijani flag and making the Turkish ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves hand gesture at the Marseille-Galatasaray football match at Vélodrome Stadium in Marseille, France, reports Public Radio of Armenia.
The Europa League match between Olympique Marseille and Galatasaray Istanbul was interrupted Thursday night due to fan violence, reports DPA agency. Galatasaray fans initially threw fireworks onto the field, reports broadcaster RMC Sport and the French sports newspaper L’Equipe. After that, fans from both sides threw burning torches and objects into each other’s fan areas. The group-stage match at the Stade de Marseille was stopped for several minutes in the 38th minute of play. Security forces and policemen tried to get the situation under control. Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim went to talk to the supporters of the Turkish club, while Olympique captain Dimitri Payet spoke to Marseille fans. After play resumed, the Marseille-Galatasaray match ended in a 0-0 draw.
Supporters of Marseille were donning Armenian and Greek flags and as a form of provocation Turkish and Azeri Galatasaray fans responded by flashing the Grey Wolves insignia. Turkish ultras have an exhaustive record of promoting violence and racist sentiments against Armenians and Greeks, most notably when Turkish football supporters unveiled a shameful banner linked to the Smyrna Massacre during a recent UEFA Europa League clash between Trabzonspor and AEK. A banner with the phrase “Can you swim?” was displayed by Trabzonspor fans in their Europa League match against AEK on Thursday, a message which directly refers to the Smyrna Massacre of 1922. In what became one of the darkest moments in Hellenic history, Turkish troops ruthlessly set fire to the city of Smyrna, forcing the Greek and Armenian population to gather by the sea in an attempt to survive. Many were brutally tortured, raped and killed. An estimated 100,000 Greeks and Armenians were murdered in the tragedy.
French MP Anne-Laurence Petel wrote to French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, asking him to treat the authors of the Grey Wolves signs with the utmost firmness.
French MP Anne-Laurence Petel’s statement runs as follows,
“The Grey Wolves have no place in France: I am writing to the Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin, to defend the Armenians! Particularly serious events occurred on the sidelines of the OM-Galatasaray match on Thursday at the Stade Vélodrome. As CCAF South noted, Turkish supporters were seen flying the Azerbaijani flag and making the characteristic Grey Wolves sign. The Grey Wolves have no place in France. Faced with repeated incitement to violence against people of Armenian origin, the government decided to dissolve this small extremist group on November 4. It is unacceptable that the Grey Wolves are reconstituting themselves. So today I wrote to Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin asking him to show the utmost firmness in the face of the enemies of the Republic.”
The Turkish ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves group were disbanded in France in November 2020. The decision was made by the Council of Ministers, in accordance with the instructions of the President of the Republic. The decision to outlaw the group came after a memorial to the Armenian genocide near Lyon was defaced with pro-Turkish slogans.