Turkish international and Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan verbally and physically assaulted a Turkish sports journalist on a plane carrying the national team from Macedonia’s Skopje to Italy’s Trieste late on Monday.
Just before the plane took off, Turan reportedly approached daily Milliyet’s Bilal Meşe, who was sitting nearby, and started shouting at him.
“Tell me Bilal Meşe, were you there? Were you with us when you wrote about the bonuses issue? Who did I ask for money from? Who did ask I for bonuses from? Talk. Come on. Who made you write those reports?” Turan reportedly shouted at Meşe, who has been in journalism for more than 40 years.
Turan was referring to stories widely reported in the Turkish media during the national team’s troubled European Championships last year, in which Turkey failed to advance from its group with two losses in three games.
Reports suggested there was major disharmony in the team at the time, stemming from a rift between the squad, led by team captain Turan and coach Fatih Terim, and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) over the level of bonuses paid to players for participating in the championship.
“What kind of a country is this? They allow you onto this plane. F*** those who allowed you onto this plane,” Turan reportedly railed at Meşe, describing him as “shameless.”
“You thought I was like the others. Who did I beg for money from? You son of a b****. I’d quit football before allowing anyone to say anything against my honor, my family,” he added.
He also blasted TFF officials and its president.
“Your boss is [TFF President Yıldırım] Demirören. You are from the newspaper of the TFF president! Isn’t your boss the TFF president?” Turan shouted.
He then grabbed Meşe by the throat and was about to hit him when two other players, Burak Yılmaz and Caner Erkin, intervened.
While this incident was happening, coach Terim, who was reportedly sitting 12 rows away from the journalist’s seat, was noted to have done nothing to stop Turan.
Following the incident, the Barcelona midfielder shared a message on his Instagram account, saying: “Did I do right yesterday? I don’t know!!!”
“Maybe not right, but at least honest, honorable, esteemed behavior … Did I get an answer? No … [He] filled up the pages for months, but in front of me he had no more than two words,” Turan wrote.
The incident took place on the night of an international friendly match between Macedonia and Turkey.
After a brief training camp in Italy’s Trieste and Slovenia, Turkey will play Kosovo in a World Cup qualifying stage match on June 11.
UPDATE: ARDA QUITTED THE NATIONAL TEAM
Arda Turan said on Tuesday he was quitting the national team. Speaking to reporters at Turkey's training camp in Slovenia, the Barcelona midfielder said he had made a mistake while representing his country, and was ending a career with the national team which saw him win 94 caps and score 17 goals. (DHA)