Football: earthquake-impacted Hatayspor withdraw from Turkish league
Hatayspor have withdrawn from the Turkish Super Lig following the devastating earthquake that hit the country this week, the president of the Turkish Union of Clubs Ali Koc said on Thursday.
Hatayspor’s Ghanaian winger Christian Atsu – formerly of Chelsea, Everton and Newcastle – remains missing despite the club’s vice president saying earlier this week that he had been rescued from the rubble with injuries and transported to hospital. Just hours before the earthquake, Atsu scored a late winner against Kasimpasa in his team’s last match in the Super Lig.
Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported the club’s sports director Taner Savut is still missing or under the rubble.
“Hatayspor sent a letter. They notified us that they will not play this season’s games,” Koc said at a news conference along with Turkish Football Federation (TFF) president Mehmet Buyukeksi.
“If Gaziantep FK also wants to withdraw from the league, we plan to continue with 17 teams, provided that the rights of these two clubs remain intact,” adding that Gaziantep had yet to make a decision.
The Gaziantep province was close to the earthquake’s epicenter and was severely hit.
Hatayspor are 14th in the Turkish top flight’s standings while Gaziantep are 10th. Hatayspor director Volkan Demirel did not respond to a request for comment.
The resumption of the league has been further delayed and is expected to restart on March 3.
The death toll from the earthquakes which hit Turkey and Syria passed 20,000 on Thursday, with the TFF confirming several players and coaches from across divisions have lost their lives.