Foreign Coaches in Turkish Football

Foreign footballer rule stands always at the top of the agenda of Turkish football. Along with players’ education and training, broadcast revenue and clubs’ debts, domestic/foreign coach discussion also becomes prominent in case of choosing a coach for the national team, in particular. Following Fatih Terim’s farewells to the A National Team in 2009 and 2017, the negative approach of the national press on the Turkey Football Federation’s prefers Guus Hiddink and Mircea Lucescu to domestic coaches is still fresh in the minds.

When 4-Big of Super League (Besiktas, Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Trabzonspor) plunge into a coach quest in both pre-season and season, the first topic on the agenda is always alternatives’ nationalities! At this point, the specification of knowing the Turkish league and culture comes to the fore as the main criterion. Hence, the board of clubs prefer local managers to a great extent. For instance, the last season in which the four teams started the season with a foreign coach was 2006-2007, with Eric Gerets, Arthur Zico, Jean Tigana and Sebastian Lazaroni on the bench.

As for organizations, particularly sports clubs and corporate companies in Turkey, generally, categorize managers by their places of birth rather than their potential benefits, contributions and achievements. The criterion is so clear: ‘Coaches who are familiar with the Turkish league and culture’. In other words, domestic or foreigner of becoming like Turkish in time…

Gordon Milne, Christoph Daum and Mircea Lucescu, who have emerged in our minds when we think about foreigner of becoming like Turkish, are not the only titleholders in Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, but also concrete alternatives of Turkish teams in different times. In this regard, could we explain the preference of Milne by Trabzonspor, Daum by Bursaspor and Lucescu by the TFF with achievements and strong references in the said managers’ resumes? What’s more, given Gigi Multescu’s adventure between 1993-2003 in Samsunspor, Kayserispor, Adanaspor, Ankaragücü, Gaziantepspor and the career of Safet Susic spread over the past 23 years in Istanbulspor, Konyaspor, Ankaragücü, Rizespor, Ankaraspor, Alanyaspor and Akhisarspor; the importance of the abovementioned criterion for the board of football clubs would be underlined once again. Either be domestic or foreigner who knows the Turkish league and culture in time!

On the other hand, the total number of foreign coaches has shown a strong correlation with Turkey’s macroeconomic indicators as well as economic and foreign policies. Turkey’s economy, which managed to produce domestic substitution of non-durable goods in the first phase of import-substitution industrialization prior to 1980, could not have realized the production of intermediate and investment goods during the second stage the policy. Moreover, given the economic fragile that could not have responded to post-1974 external crises (Cyprus Embargo, First and Second Oil Crisis), season openings without foreign managers coincided with this period. (1978-1979 and 1979-1980) Following 24 January decisions and the military coup d’état on 12 September 1980, Turkey started to undertake a neoliberal transformation by the liberalization of capital movements, foreign exchange transactions and foreign trade markets. Thus, the number of foreign coaches had experienced the highest levels in the second half of the 1980s. During the 1990s, Turkey Super League hosted the lowest level of the foreign coach in the season of 1994-1995, immediately after the 5 April decisions that led to a significant devaluation of the value of TRY due to a significant increase in public deficits throughout the first years of the 1990s. Following the recovery in the number of foreign coaches in Turkey Super League in the second half of the 1990s, there occurred a further downward trend in the number of foreign coaches right after the economic crises in November 2000 and February 2001. At this stage, Turkey has also experienced the minimum number of foreign coaches over the last few years, mainly stemmed from the worsened macroeconomic indicators since 2015 as well as considerable depreciation of TRY since the second half of 2018.

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