Following the devastating Turkish-Syrian earthquake that left over 50,000 people dead, soccer fans paid tribute to the children that were affected by the 7.8 magnitude natural disaster.
On February 6th, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey near the Syrian border. The disaster, which was labeled a level-4 emergency and among the worst quakes in the country’s history, was fatal for over 50,000 Turkish and Syrian citizens.
In addition to the deaths, it resulted in over 6.8 million people being displaced from their homes, 3.7 million of which were children.
During the four-minute and 17-second mark of the game between Turkey’s famous soccer club Besiktas and Antalyaspor, fans tossed countless toys onto the field of Vodafone Park in Istanbul that were meant to be gifted to the children who were devastated by the quake.
In addition to the toy donations, many Turkish fans chanted “government resign” in protest of their government’s response to the disaster. According to some Besiktas fans, government officials such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not organize proper relief efforts to help those in the devastated areas.
Nursen Guler, a resident of a southeastern city in Turkey, even admitted to NBC News that she was disappointed by the government’s lack of aid during the crisis. “Nobody was here to help us. I have complaints about all the authorities here,” she explained. “There are no teams here, everyone is waiting for rescue teams.”
Turkish soccer team discusses the importance of the ‘This toy is my friend’ event
The event occurred specifically at the four-minute 17-second mark in order to reflect the tie of the “major” earthquake that struck the country at 4:17 a.m. on Feb. 6.
“Our fans organized a meaningful event called ‘This toy is my friend‘ during the match in order to give morale to the children affected by the earthquake,” the Turkish team shared in a statement that addressed the occurrence. “The fans threw scarves, berets, and plush toys to be given as a gift to the children in the earthquake region.”
Besiktas defender Tayyip Sanuc also openly discussed the event, noting that he was “very touched” by the fans and their ability to organize such a significant action.
“There are more important things than football. We are going through difficult times as a country. Together we will heal the wounds,” he said. “I hope we never experience such a disaster again.”
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