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Political cronyism hits crowds in Turkey


Attendances at top league games in Turkey have more than halved since last season because of Passolig, which requires anyone buying a ticket to do so with a credit card issued by a bank with close links to President Erdogan.

Either in protest or through unwillingness to surrender personal data to obtain the card, many fans have stopped going to matches.  Crowds at Fenerbahce, which has the highest attendances in the league, have dropped from an average of 42,000 in 2012-13 to about 15,000 this season.

The league's largest sponsor has now decided to pull out, citng the dismal attendances and flagging interest and comparing the atmosphere unfavourably with the Premiership.   The Ulker Group is a global confectionery income that owns Godiva and United Biscuits.  Its head, Murat Ulker, has poured some £140m into Turkish football in the last nine years.