Investing in Somalian football would complement the Turkish government’s efforts to strengthen relations with African countries
Turkey is a nation which is football-mad. When it comes to passion for football, Turkish fans are among the most committed. Turkish football is watched all over the world from coffee shops in London to, now, across Somalia. Somalis, like Turks, are crazy for football. On the streets, outside the mosques, on the beach and even on the roads during rush hour, one will always find Somali youth playing the beautiful game. Football gives the young an opportunity to be young, free and healthy in an often difficult environment. The football culture, among other things, is a strong bond that binds Turks and Somalis and could be capitalized on to take the people-to-people relations to the next level. Somalia’s Football Association is still in its infancy and, despite public love for the game, there are very few places to play safely and for any official games to be played in. Turkish football teams, especially the “Big Three” (i.e. Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, and Besiktas), have a ready-made opportunity to make Turkish football big in Somalia and Africa in general.
Somali people have a great appreciation for Turkey because of the direct bilateral assistance they have received in aid, infrastructure, affordable health provision and educational scholarships from the Turkish government. The Somali business community have also developed strong links with their Turkish counterparts, with whom they enjoy profitable partnerships in many cases. This has helped to strengthen the people-to-people relations, which has allowed for regular engagement and dialogue between the two sides. Accordingly, Turkish football, which needs new markets like every other football association, should, in our opinion, try to benefit from and build on the current level of relations by investing in Somalia.