ISTANBUL, Turkey - The full-throated fans of Turkish side Galatasaray certainly know how to build an atmosphere. In a derby game last year, the Turk Telekom Arena, home to Galatasaray football club, recorded a decibel reading of 131. It was the loudest roar ever reported in a sports stadium. That’s louder than standing on an aircraft carrier as a military jet with an afterburner takes off a mere 50 feet in front of you.
Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville reckoned he’d never played anywhere as noisy as Galatasaray – and he was talking about the old Ali Sami Yen stadium that held 24,000 people, less than half the size of their new home.
Make it to a live Galatasaray game and you’re left in no doubt about just how much these people love football. Turkish teams may not be the most successful in the world, but their fans are unquestionably among the most passionate. The three biggest clubs – Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas – are based in Istanbul, and boast millions of followers.
Ford joined Galatasaray’s hardcore supporters prior to a game as they gathered in cafes and bars, eager to sample the ambience and find out what the club means to them. For Atahan Altinordu, as for many fans, it’s the most important thing in his life. In fact, during a TV interview some time ago, he spoke with such passion about the club that they got in touch and asked him if he’d be interested in a job. He now works as a writer for the club.
After soaking up the pre-match vibe, we headed with Atahan and friends to the stadium. There, flags ring the second tier of the stands, bearing messages in English such as ‘Fight Like a Lion Galatasaray’. As for the noise reverberating around the stadium, we brought our own decibel recorder with us to see how loud it gets. On this occasion it reached 97 decibels, modest compared to that derby game against Fenerbahce in 2011, but still electrifying, lifting you onto your toes and making your hair stand on end.
As Atahan and his fellow supporters made clear: even if the team can’t always guarantee the right result, one thing Galatasaray’s fans can guarantee is an incredible – and incredibly loud – atmosphere.
This is part of Ford’s Fascinating World of Football, a 3-month series of weekly stories highlighting some of the more unusual stories of European football. To follow the tour and find out more about the support vehicle, the all-new Ford Tourneo Custom, visit facebook.com/FordTourneo