‘The Groom’ reference lands football official in hot water with Turkish finance minister



A board member of Istanbul-based football club Beşiktaş is under investigation for allegedly insulting Turkish Finance Minister and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, over a speech where he referred to an unnamed person as “The Groom,” news site Bianet reported on Monday.

Following a February match between Beşiktaş and Göztepespor, Ali Rıza Dizdar criticised the referee for violating certain rules, saying the referee’s violation was meant to appease “The Groom.”

“I was criticising a football match. I did not target anybody,” Bianet cited Dizdar as saying in his testimony to the prosecutor.

“The game would have been repeated. I know this for a fact,” Dizdar said. “But the political authority, namely ‘The Groom,’ prevented that. The Groom also unashamedly lowered (Beşiktaş footballer Norwegian Alexander) Sörloth’s ban from games.”

Albayrak often utilises Turkey’s insult laws, albeit not as often as his father-in-law Erdoğan.

Earlier in 2020, Albayrak sued Cumhuriyet newspaper for damages over a column that also referred to “The Groom,” as well as Cumhuriyet journalist Hazal Ocak for reporting on a plot of land he purchased. Six journalists have faced trial for reporting on Albayrak’s leaked e-mails, while left-wing daily BirGün columnist İbrahim Varlı was sentenced to a fine for Albayrak’s involvement in the Panama Papers leaks, Bianet said.

A court in Istanbul ordered to ban access to more than 200 news stories about Albayrak’s land purchases along the Kanal Istanbul artificial waterway project.