Fanaticus Dramaticus: The Rage Page

December 29, 2015
Women and Children Only

Over the holidays, I saw a very moving film called “Mustang.” The theater was packed and the crowd seemed mesmerized. This coming-of-age tale tells the story of 5 Turkish sisters and the oppression they face at the hands of a conservative family.  The girls are literally locked in their home, not permitted to go to school and must wait to be chosen for an arranged marriage.

At one point, the sisters  sneak out  to a Turkish soccer match where only women  are permitted to attend after male fans are banned for bad behavior.  The match serves as a momentary respite from their repressive existence. They cheer, they laugh, they bond but then they must return home.  Directed by a Turkish woman Deniz Gamze Ergüven, “Mustang” is nominated for a Golden Globe award for best foreign language film and is on the short list for a similar Oscar nod.  In an interview with Filmmaker Magazine, the first-time director explains  that “the story is really like a [fairy] tale, so the match is a bit like the ball all the girls dream of going to.”

Turns out, the “female fans only game” as a radical solution to unruly fans is based on real life. In July 2011, The Turkish club Fenerbahce was ordered to play two home games behind closed doors (without spectators) after its fans stormed the field during an exhibition game against a Ukrainian team.  In a twist on the closed door punishment, women and children under 12 were permitted to attend.  Male fans over the age of 12  were again banned in 2013 from a match.  In 2014, Fenerbahce clinched the league title in front of 40,000 female and youth fans after more bad behavior by male fans.  I loved the film and how the soccer match signified freedom for the girls. I also loved that I learned about a true-life effort to tamp down hooliganism that I had never heard about before.