Sport in Turkey

Among all sports in Turkey, the most popular one is football.[1] Turkey's top teams include Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş. In 2000, Galatasaray won the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup. Two years later, the Turkish national team finished third in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Finals in Japan and South Korea, while in 2008, the national team reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Euro 2008 competition. The Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul hosted the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final, while the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in Istanbul hosted the 2009 UEFA Cup Final.

Other popular mainstream sports include basketball and volleyball. Turkey hosted the Finals of EuroBasket 2001 and the 2010 FIBA World Championship, with the men's national team finishing second in both events. The national team also reached the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Championship. At club level, Anadolu Efes (then known as Efes Pilsen) won the Korać Cup in 1996, finished second in the Saporta Cup of 1993, and made it to the Final Four of Euroleague and Suproleague in 2000 and 2001.[2] Also, Beşiktaş have come out as the winners of Eurochallenge in 2012-2013 season with only a single defeat, all stages of the tournament included.[3] For the same season, Beşiktaş dominated all national competitions as well, relying upon NBA veterans including Carlos Arroyo, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, and Adam Morrison as well as Deron Williams for a short spell. Turkish basketball players such as Mehmet Okur, Hidayet Türkoğlu and Ersan İlyasova have also been successful in the NBA.

Women's volleyball teams, namely Fenerbahçe, Eczacıbaşı and Vakıfbank, have won numerous European championship titles and medals. Fenerbahçe also won the CEV Women's Volleyball World Club Championship in 2010. Turkey Women's National Basketball team won silver medal in European Championship in 2011 while Women's National Volleyball Team won 6th place in World Championship in 2010 and won a bronze medal in European Championship in 2011.

Turkish athletes recently achieved success in European level; Elvan Abeylegesse winning gold medal in Women's 10000 metres and silver in Women's 5000 metres, Alemitu Bekele winning gold medal in Women's 5000 metres and Nevin Yanıt winning gold medal in Women's 100 metres Hurdl in 2010 European Championship. In 2011 European Athletics Indoor Championships Kemal Koyuncu won silver in Men's 1500 metres and Halil Akkas won bronze in Men's 3000 metres.

The traditional Turkish national sport has been the Yağlı güreş ("oil wrestling") since Ottoman times.[4] Edirne hosts the annual Kırkpınar oiled wrestling tournament since 1361.[5] International wrestling styles governed by FILA such as Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling are also popular, with many European, World and Olympic championship titles won by Turkish wrestlers both individually and as a national team.[6] Another major sport in which the Turks have been internationally successful is weightlifting.


Main article: Football in Turkey

Turkey has risen to prominence in a number of sporting areas in recent decades. Football has seen a rapid transformation earning it third place in the coveted 2002 FIFA World Cup. Its domestic teams are dominated by Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray. Of these, Fenerbahçe's European triumph came in the now defunct 1967 Balkans Cup. Galatasaray has seen the most success, winning the 2000 UEFA Cup and European Super Cup, as well as fielding many of the players for the international team. In recent years, Turkey has exported many of its players into top foreign teams, including Internazionale, FC Barcelona, Parma, Milan, and Bayern Munich, among others. As well as sending players abroad, the Turkish league has also attracted players into Turkey. World class players such as Pierre van Hooijdonk, Mário Jardel, Nicolas Anelka, John Carew, Milan Baroš, Radomir Antić, Óscar Córdoba, Lincoln, Mateja Kežman, Kleberson, Roberto Carlos, Zoran Simović, Frank de Boer, Giovani dos Santos, Franck Ribéry, Harry Kewell, Dani Güiza, Guti, Quaresma, Gheorghe Hagi, , Abdul Kader Keita, Shabani Nonda, Lucas Neill, Lorik Cana, Giga Popescu, Jérôme Rothen and many more have played at some point or continue to play in Turkey.

Turkey is currently bidding to host UEFA Euro 2020.[7]


Basketball is also gaining popularity in Turkey. Turkey came second in European Basketball Championship in 2001 in Istanbul. Turkey also came ninth in the 2002 FIBA World Championship. Several Turkish nationals, including Ersan İlyasova, Hedo Türkoğlu, Mehmet Okur, Semih Erden, Ömer Aşık, and Enes Kanter, have achieved success in the prestigious National Basketball Association of North America, generally considered the world's top basketball league. Turkey's greatest success in international basketball came when it hosted the 2010 FIBA World Championship, finishing second to the USA. Türkoğlu captained the side and made the all-tournament team. Turkey also advanced to the quarter-finals in the 2006 FIBA World Championship, achieving a non-expected sixth place. Turkey women's national basketball team won silver medal in EuroBasket Women in 2011. Galatasaray won the 2008-09 FIBA EuroCup, finished third in the same competition in 2007-08, and also was runner up in the 2009 FIBA Europe SuperCup Women.


Volleyball, especially women's volleyball is a popular sport in Turkey. Recently Turkey women's national volleyball team secured 6th place in FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship at 2010 in Japan and won a bronze medal in FIVB Women's European Championship at 2011 in Serbia. Turkey's top women's volleyball team is Vakıfbank which have won silver medal in FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship at 2011 in Doha, gold medal in CEV Champions League in 2010-2011 season and gold medal in both Challenge Cup and Women's Top Volley International in 2007-2008 season. Another prominent Turkish women's volleyball club is Fenerbahçe which have won gold medal in FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship in 2010, silver medal in CEV Champions League in 2009-2010 season and bronze medal in CEV Champions League 2010-2011 season.


Yeliz Özel from Ankara is a Turkish handballer considered to be one of the worlds' best playmakers from women's handball of its time.


Ramil Guliyev switched allegiance to Turkey.

Athletics is another fast improving sport. Süreyya Ayhan set the 1500m world record in 2003 and Elvan Abeylegesse set a new 5000m record in 2004. In 2010 European Athletics Championships Alemitu Bekele and Elvan Abeylegesse won gold and silver medals respectively in Women's 5000 metres and Elvan Abeylegesse also won gold medal in Women's 10000 metres. Nevin Yanıt won first European Championship in a sprint race for Turkey by winning gold in Women's 100 metres hurdles. In 2011 European Athletics Indoor Championships Kemal Koyuncu won silver in Men's 1500 metres and Halil Akkas won bronze in Men's 3000 metres. Although, most of the successes of Turkey's athletes were overshadowed by the revelations of systematic usage of prohibited substances.

Beach handball

2010 Beach Handball World Championships were held between June 23–27 in Antalya. Turkey national team won twice the silver medal at the world championships in 2004 and 2006, and the bronze medal in 2010. Turkey women's national team also won the silver medal at the 2004 world championships.


Turkey hosted the 2009 World Fencing Championships realized Between September 30-October 8 in Antalya.


Fishing cannot be done from any boat without a license, even if you're an amateur. You must apply to have one by submitting some I.D. cards and paying a fee 150 Turkish Lira for two years. Details concerning fishing zones, the minimum sizes of fish that can be caught, and the numbers of fish that can be caught per person can be obtained from the Department of Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Aegean and Mediterranean seas are rich fishing areas.


Plane gliding, hang gliding, parachuting, paragliding and single engine flights are catered for as well as services that provide instruction courses. Best areas are Fethiye, Eskişehir, Pamukkale and Istanbul.


Motorsports have become popular recently, especially following the inclusion of the Rally of Turkey to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar in 2003,[8] and the inclusion of the Turkish Grand Prix to the Formula One racing calendar in 2005.[9] Other important annual motorsports events which are held at the Istanbul Park racing circuit include the MotoGP Grand Prix of Turkey, the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the GP2 Series and the Le Mans Series. From time to time, Istanbul and Antalya also host the Turkish leg of the F1 Powerboat Racing championship; while the Turkish leg of the Red Bull Air Race World Series, an air racing competition, takes place above the Golden Horn in Istanbul. Surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, paragliding and other extreme sports are becoming more popular every year.

The track located at Istanbul has a seating capacity of 155,000 people (biggest in Europe), is just over 5,340 m long and runs anti-clockwise. The track was designed by Hermann Tilke, designer of the Sepang, Bahrain and Shanghai tracks. GP2 series also include a Turkish Team (Petrol Ofisi FMS International) and a Turkish Driver, Jason Tahincioglu.

Kenan Sofuoğlu is the twice world champion in Supersport in 2007, 2010 and 2012.


Turkey's rivers provide perfect conditions for canoeing and rafting, for both beginners and experienced. Some of the best rivers for rafting are Çoruh, Barhal, Berta, Fırtına, Çolaklı, Köprüçay, Manavgat, Dragon, Göksu (Silifke), Zamanti, Göksu (Feke), Kızılırmak, and Dalaman Çayı.

Rugby League

Rugby League is a relatively new sport in Turkey, so far five clubs make up rugby league in Turkey, observer status within the Rugby League European Federation is expected within a few months.[10]

Rugby union

Main article: Rugby union in Turkey

Sailing and boat trips

Turkey has four bordering seas; the Black Sea, Marmara Sea, Aegean Sea, and Mediterranean Sea, so it not surprising that cruising is a popular sport. There are many cruising charters available. Gulets are traditional motor yachts and gulet holidays are becoming increasingly popular. Best Gulets are build in Marmaris and Bodrum.

Team Turx


Weightlifting has been another successful sport for Turkey, regularly relied upon to provide gold medals in the Olympics. Its most famous weightlifters, Naim Süleymanoğlu and Halil Mutlu, are only two of four weightlifters in the world to have won three gold medals in three Olympics, and among women Nurcan Taylan broke one world record.


The bays around Çesme, Alaçatı, Bodrum, and Datça peninsulas as well as Antalya have ideal wind conditions for windsurfing. Famous windsurfer Cagla Kubat is also from Turkey.


Main article: Wrestling in Turkey

See also


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