Turkey is one of the rare countries in the world which has an article related to sports in her Constitution. Article 59 of the Constitution says, "The State takes measures to develop the physical and mental health of Turkish citizens of all ages and encourages the spread of sports among the masses. The State protects successful athletes." In recent years, with investments made in the field of sports, scientific research and the increase in importance placed by the State on sports policy, sports in Turkey became a well-liked and interesting event both as a performance sport and for the utilization of free time. Activities are continuing for sports, which became an essential passion and a way of life in the developed countries of the world, to take the place it deserves in Turkey just before the twenty-first century as an important social activity. With this objective, sports engaged in by the masses are encouraged, that is one of the basic components of raising a physically and mentally healthy society, the concentration is being directed at all the areas of Olympic sports rather than on a single branch, the predominance of the state is being decreased while the contribution of the private sector is increased and measures are being taken for the rational utilization of the facilities.
The State and Sports. Sport in Turkey is being encouraged and supported by the state and sports clubs are given financial aid. The main targets of the sports policy of the state are to increase the number of athletes, to attain superior successes at international sports competitions, to prepare suitable sports environment for encouraging and providing for every individual at every age to engage in sports activities. Large sports facilities and investments in Turkey are realized by the state to a great extent. However, an important increase in the number of sports facilities of sports clubs and private organizations can be mentioned with the start of the development of the perception of sponsorship and marketing of sports in recent years. Of the total 2,574 sport facilities in Turkey, 261 belong to the private sector.
Galatasaray Football Team, the Champion of 1999-2000 season UEFA Cup.
The Directorate General of Youth and Sports. The backbone, and the highest sports organization of the State in Turkey, is the Directorate General of Youth and Sports, annexed to the Prime Ministry. The Directorate General, which was established in 1938, has provincial directorates that perform its services in 81 provinces. A total of 6,499 personnel are working for the central and provincial organization of the Directorate General. Referees, provincial representatives, coaches, observers, etc. also undertake voluntary duties at the organization.
Within the structure of the Directorate General, there are, currently, 37 sports federations. These are Marksmanship and Hunting, Track and Field, Basketball, Horseback Riding, Bicycling, Boxing, Badminton, Ice Sports, Billiards, Bridge, Gymnastics, Mountaineering, Fencing, Wrestling, Golf, Weightlifting, Handball, Scouting, Judo, Karate, Skiing, Rowing, Table Tennis, Archery, Automobile Sports, Underwater and Water Skiing, Chess, Tennis, Taekwon-do, Volleyball, Body building, Swimming, Sailing, Handicapped, Universities, Traditional Sports Branches and Sports-for-All. The Turkish Soccer Federation became autonomous in 1992. Furthermore, certain sports are performed within the structureof sports clubs or by citizens in spite of there not being federations for these sports in Turkey.
Every year the Prime Ministry prepares Sports Education Plans in the direction of the requests coming from the Provincial Directorates of Youth and Sports and the Federation Chairmanships and organizes coaching and monitoring courses and various seminars for the educating and training of the needed athletes.
The most important goal of the Directorate General of Youth and Sports is to provide that citizens of all ages engage in sports for the development of their physical and mental health. Furthermore, handicapped citizens are supported and encouraged by the state to engage in sports and to participate in sports activities.
The most important organization providing services in the field of sports, other than the Directorate General of Youth and Sports, is the Turkish National Olympic Committee. Furthermore, the Confederation of Turkish Amateur Sports Clubs, and numerous associations and foundations are among voluntary sports organizations.
Sports Clubs. One of the basic objectives of sports in Turkey is to develop mass sports based on sports clubs. The foundation of success in sports is to develop mass sports. The perception of mass sports and widespread sports is accepted as the most important component for the development of competitive sports in Turkey.
Halil Mutlu, the Turkish Weightlifter
Those who are engaged in performance sports in Turkey participate in the sports activities within the structure of the 6,169 Sports Clubs. Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Beï¿½?iktaï¿½?, Efes Pilsen, Ülker, Eczacıbaï¿½?ı, Vakıfbank, Tofaï¿½?, Enka, Netaï¿½? and Arçelik are among the major Sports Clubs. A great majority of the sports clubs concentrate on soccer. Furthermore, there are individually licensed athletes who do not belong to any sports club and engage in sports and participate in competitions. The number of licensed sportsmen in Turkey is 176.906.
Popular Sports. Although soccer is the most popular sport in Turkey, basketball, volleyball, handball, track-and-field and wrestling (which is considered as the ancestral sport) are also popular. Furthermore, important international successes have been attained in weightlifting, boxing, taekwon-do, judo and archery in recent years.
A total of 1,275 medals, with 398 of them gold, were won in international competitions in the period between 1999-2000 (May). The sports branch which obtained the greatest international success was wrestling with 231 medals. Furthermore, 5 world, 14 European, 2 Balkan and 250 Turkish records were broken in five categories in 1999.
Turkey obtained her first Olympic Championship with Yaï¿½?ar Erkan in wrestling at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Ruhi Sarıalp's Olympic third place in triple long jump at the 1948 London Olympic Games and Mehmet Terzi's first place in the marathon at the 1983 Mediterranean Games are great successes that were obtained in the track and field. Naim Süleymanoglu and Halil Mutlu are Turkey's most successful athletes, who broke the world record in weightlifting and won the Olympic Championship.
Turkey's first championship at the European Cups was the European Radivoj Korac Cup won in the 1995-1996 season by the Efes Pilsen basketball team. Efes Pilsen has also succeeded in participating in the Final-Four, held in Greece, in 2000. In 1998, Eczacıbaï¿½?ı women volleyball team won the cup of the European Cup Winners and Vakıfbank women volleyball team placed second at the European Champions League.
Derya Büyükuncu, bronze medal owner of the World Short Course Swimming Championship.
There is Deniz Günay's European Championship at the European Indoor Archery Championship held in Germany in 1998 and the World Championship at the World Universities Championship held in Taiwan. In boxing, Hülya ï¿½?ahin has become a first ever with her winning a gold medal at the European Boxing Cup for Women held in Sweden in 1999. The Turkish National Boxing Team, as well, winning 3 gold and 2 bronze medals, placed second at the European Boxing Championship organized in Finland in 2000. As for swimming, the national swimmer Derya Büyükuncu of Galatasaray Swimming Team, won a bronze medal at the World Short Course Swimming Championship in Athens, and became the first Turkish sportsman ever to be accorded the place of honor at a world championship.
Yet, the most outstanding achievement of Turkey in the field of sports is the UEFA Championship of Galatasaray in the 1999-2000 season. Having challenged by the most powerful soccer teams of Europe, and becoming eligible for the final without losing a single match, Galatasaray, in the final, defeated the British team Arsenal 4-1 and also became the first Turkish team to win the cup. Galatasaray, which has so far had 138 matches in the European Cups, became Turkey's envoy to the west in soccer.
Reference: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey