A FIFA-licensed referee sparked debate for using a cryptocurrency at the kick-off ceremony of last weekend’s Istanbul derby as the Turkish Football Federation started an investigation.
“I see monkey tricks, what a shame,” a former referee Murat Fevzi Tanırlı said about derby’s referee Arda Kardeşler’s coin choice.
Istanbul giants Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe came face to face on May 8. The match ended 1-1, but rather than the football performed on the pitch, the kick-off ceremony came to the forefront as photos showing the referee’s coin were spread on social media late after the match.
According to the rules, Turkish referees can only use 1 Turkish lira coin or a special referee coin with one side showing a goalpost, and the other a football.
“This is not forgetfulness, it is a move,” Tanırlı said. “I really cannot understand why such an experienced referee has scandalized this event.”
The 34-year-old referee has refereed 25 matches this season.
The outstanding allegation is that the referee may have signed an agreement with a cryptocurrency platform without the approval of the federation.
Blaming Kardeşler for besmirching the profession’s reputation, Tanırlı said, “The investigation will bring light on his real intention. He may face a penal sanction.”
The kick-off ceremony was also headlined by many global sports websites, with many commentators alleging that UEFA and FIFA may also interfere.
Many cryptocurrency platforms have commercial and sponsor agreements with sports teams in Turkey. Thus, some national athletes have taken roles on some platforms’ advertisements in recent years.