Turkish soccer fans do their own ‘Teddy Bear Toss’ to support earthquake victims
Fans of Turkish Süper Lig club Besiktas Istanbul interrupted Sunday’s match against Antalyaspor for a good cause. They threw thousands of stuffed toys onto the pitch in a show of support for children impacted by the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
The game was paused after 4 minutes and 17 seconds — a reference to the time the earthquake hit at 4:17 a.m. local time on Feb. 6. Players from both teams as well as officials teamed up to clear the field to eventually continue playing.
Besiktas later shared drone footage from the interruption on its social media channels:
“Our fans threw scarves, berets and plush toys on the ground of Vodafone Park to be given as a gift to the children in the earthquake region to cheer them up,” the club said in a statement.
One of the deadliest disasters this century, the 7.8-point magnitude Turkey-Syria earthquake killed more than 50,000 people earlier this month. It additionally left an estimated 1.5 million homeless.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Turkey declared a three-month state of emergency in the provinces hit by the earthquake and its hundreds of aftershocks. The country’s highest tier of soccer, the Süper Lig, decided to temporarily suspend play as well, with two clubs in the region — Gaziantep and Hatayspor — withdrawing from competition altogether.
The league eventually resumed action this weekend, including the game between Besiktas and Antalyaspor that ended in a 0-0 draw. The result of that contest, however, was secondary to fans showing their support for those affected by the disaster.