Turkish president Erdogan orders teams to remove ‘arena’ from stadium names

30 May 2017

Turkish power Galatasaray has become the first team in that country to remove the word “arena” from its stadium’s name, following an order from president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In a speech delivered Friday in Istanbul, Erdogan said he had instructed Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic to remove “arena” from stadium names in the country due to the word’s ancient Roman history.

“I am against ‘arena,’” Erdogan said. “Of course you know what they used to do in arenas in the past? They would let people be shred to pieces. We are going to remove the word ‘arena’ from stadiums.”

Erdogan also noted that the word does not exist in the Turkish language and “stressed the need for Turkey to develop its own language,” according to the Agence France-Presse.

Galatasaray announced Saturday that the club’s Turk Telecom Arena will now be known as Turk Telekom Stadium. Rival Besiktas plays at the Vodafone Arena and the Fenerbahce basketball team plays at Ulker Sports Arena.

Erdogan narrowly won a constitutional referendum last month that granted him near-dictatorial powers. The controversial leader survived an attempted coup last year.

Turkish basketball player Enes Kanter called Erdogan “the Hitler of our century” last week when he was detained at a Romanian airport after Turkish authorities canceled his passport.