Turkey accuses Iceland of showing disrespect to soccer team

Tanya Simon
June 13, 2019

Iceland has been accused of racism after sparking outrage over its treatment of Turkey's national football team at one of their airports.

In a phone call, top diplomats from Turkey and Iceland on Tuesday discussed the mistreatment of Turkish football players who arrived in the country by plane last weekend, according to diplomatic sources.

Turkey's team, fresh from its defeat of World Cup Champions France on Saturday, flew into Keflavik airport near Reykjavik overnight ahead of a Euro 2020 qualifying match against Iceland on Tuesday.

In addition to Cavusoglu, the incident has drawn condemnation from Turkey's presidential office as well as party leaders. It's likely that tensions were exacerbated during an interview that Turkish midfielder Emre Belozoglu gave after going through security; an individual who has since been identified and is presumed to be a Belgian national stuck a dishwashing brush in the player's face like a microphone while he was being interviewed by reporters.

After hours of hunting by Turkish social media users, however, the brushman remains at large.

Icelandic officials confirmed to AFP that they had received the protest but did not provide further details.

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It's the Turkish Embassy in Norway that deals with Turkey's diplomatic and trade matters with Iceland as Ankara doesn't have an embassy in Reykjavik.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier that Turkey sent a note of protest to Iceland.

Turkey, who beat world champions France 2-0 on Saturday, will be looking to continue their flawless record as they lead Group H of the UEFA European Championship qualifiers. Isavia also says that the security checks took an unusually long time on Sunday night because passengers were traveling with a high number of electronic devices and liquids in their luggage, all of which needed to be individually screened.

Still, it said that the procedure was "swift" and the players passed through customs within 80 minutes of landing - disputing Turkish media reports of a process that took two hours.

There was no immediate explanation for the delay at the airport passport control.

Vidir Reynisson, director of security for the Icelandic Football Association, told The Associated Press that no extra security measures have been put in place for the game.

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