Türkiyemspor Berlin – A Special Club

Posted on September 1, 2011


If you ever visit the German capital Berlin, there are so many things to keep football fans busy in the city.

Most Berlin clubs are based in the West of the city and its top club, Hertha BSC, are back in the Bundesliga following a year in the second-tier last season. Markus Babbel’s side regularly play in front of 60,000+ at the Olympiastadion but if you fancy something a bit different, then Berlin has plenty to offer.

In the east, Union Berlin and Berliner Dynamo have a bitter rivarly with the latter having connections to the former East German secret police.

Further down the German pyramid, many clubs from Berlin have roots amongst migrant groups and Türkiyemspor are an example for others to follow.

Türkiyemspor were founded as recent as 1978 with an aim to eradicate discrimination towards Turkish migrants playing football in the city. They were known initially as BFC Izmirspor due to the majority of club members having roots in the city of Izmir.

The name was changed to Türkiyemspor Berlin in 1983 and they were quickly involved in the professional leagues and in the late 80s, they won three consecutive Berlin Cups. On a couple of occasions, Türkiyem have been on the fringes of the 2.Bundesliga but more often than not, they have been involved in the Oberliga’s.

Türkiyemspor base a lot of their work at youth level and offer opportunities to more than 300 children in 20 teams. In recent years, they expanded their footballing department with a female team and development groups for youths.

Despite its main purpose for Turkish migrants, the club has opened to all ethnic groups and Media Officer Robert Claus explained the club’s social responsibilites in a bit more detail.

He said: “Besides the athletic aspects, it is also part of our focus, to provide a social education in terms of anti-discrimination, tolerance, and interculturality. Respect for one an another has to be on top of it all, since we want to be a club for everybody and very different identities”

Even though they are one of the bigger clubs in Berlin, Türkiyemspor’s infrastructure and finances is incomparable to the likes of Hertha and Union.

“Since Türkiyem does not have neither an own playground nor a stadium, since our training opportunities are spread all over the city, our structures are recently not enough to play more than Regionalliga.

“When we were founded in 1978 most ‘old-german’ clubs had their fields and structures and did not even think about sharing.”, explained Claus.

For the hundreds of young German-Turks who are involved with Türkiyemspor, there are distant dreams of emulating the likes of Mesut Ozil and Nuri Sahin who are representing them at one of the biggest clubs in World Football.

But one of  Türkiyem’s most famous sons is Turkish international Ümit Karan who came through the youth ranks before moving to Genclerbirligi, and then most notably, Galatasaray, where he made over 200 appearances for the club.

He added: “Of course, we are aware of our social responsibility, which does not end after 90 minutes. Therefore the club initiated and took part in many social campaigns against homophobia, racism, sexism and domestic violence.

“For example, we are taking part in the so called “Respect Gaymes” each year to set a statement against discrimination of homosexuals.”

At a professional level, Türkiyemspor are now stuck in the Regionalliga’s after a short stint in the Oberliga but with both U17 and U19 age groups competing with some of Germany’s biggest clubs, the club optimistic of progressing up the DFB’s pyramid structure.

Clearly, the club will struggle to reach the same heights as their Berlin rivals but Türkiyemspor holds a special place in the community and their wider social work should be recognised.

Posted in: Feature