Fresh field notes from Switzerland

A helicopter seen in the sky is the subject of various comments from reporters traveling from Geneva to Montreux by bus. I say, “That must be the helicopter that is carrying Güneri Cıvaoğlu,” and two seats over, Yazgülü Aldoğan chuckles. The Ülker troupe has gathered together a group of “A-list” of press representatives and brought them to watch the match between Portugal and Turkey. After a business class flight to Geneva on THY, we are on a bus, with catering services, on the way to Montreux, a small city where few people have witnessed such a tribe.

As usual on such trips, of course my eyes are searching for a sight of Cıvaoğlu and I am worried that perhaps the veteran journalist will not show up at all…

It was the same at Nobel… Everyone was there except Cıvaoğlu, even though we had talked beforehand about him arriving by private plane.  Of course I had to throw it out there...

No one saw Cıvaoğlu at the Portugal-Turkey match. The way he participates is really strange: He doesn’t show up in places where everyone else goes, but puts in appearances at places one could never imagine.

He was nowhere to be found, but the media was made to feel at home in the Stade de Geneve’s grandstand just across from the R door on the top level.

Actually, on the Saturday that the match was played, all of Geneva was in an Istanbul Cocktail mood. The streets were hung with familiar decorations.  Portuguese fans and Turkish ones were shouting cheers at each other and beside a huge Turkish flag that had been unfurled in the town square, competitors were shouting slogans at each other.

I had a few photographs taken while I was in search of food that earned me the title of “Traitor Newspaper Reporter”.  But the biggest surprise was waiting for me when I got back to the Intercontinental Hotel.    

We had made plans with Yalın to meet in the hotel lobby, but to our surprise, that was the hotel where t he entire Portuguese National Team was staying. Within an hour, to prepare for the game, we had downed five drinks apiece and then we saw Figo sitting in the lobby.  The T-shirt I wear to the games was signed by Figo... I looked carefully at the nose of the legendary footballer; it had once been broken by Emre Belözoğlu…

He was calmly getting ready for the game while Portuguese fans, watched him through the window and waved at him, as excited to see him as they would be at seeing a rock star.

A few kilometers away, at the hotel where the Turkish tribe was staying, it was like a prison, a center of paranoia, almost impossible to get to and where it was forbidden to leave one’s room, let alone visit the lobby.

I wondered of course whether the two states, calm and paranoia, would affect the score or not.

On the way to the match, the Turkish guest workers showed a great deal of interest in Yalın. The famous singer was not able to get away from the people who were competing with each other to take his photograph, even though he was walking along quickly and taking long strides.

There was someone else on the streets of Geneva that some people wanted to have their pictures taken with:  Famous newspaperman Reha Muhtar, who joined the local people both before and after the match, making comments and taking lots of snapshots with his telephone.  He was even heard to say to everyone in the stadium, “The only thing I want is Fatih Terim’s resignation!”

The security provided by the Geneva police was so exaggerated that we were forced to walk the last one or two kilometers to the stadium.  By the way, it was not only us - everyone had to walk that distance.

Singing the March of the National Team that had been prepared by Ülker, the guest workers warned each other “Save your voice for the game”.  But there were some who were cheering that paid no attention to the suggestion.

Many people shouted back rude comments when they were warned and then Ali Sabancı added his support.  While standing in a long line of fans at the security gate, I spoke to Vuslat Doğan Sabancı and joked, “This must really be a democratic country if you are standing in line like everyone else.”  His polite response was, “We always stand in line everywhere we go.”

there was another media boss walking along the same path as I was: As Ahmet Çalık, the new owner of Sabah passed in front of me we said, “Look how much that guy resembles Ahmet Çalık.” Then we realized it was the real Ahmet Çalık; he told us to enjoy the match.

The full staff of the Çukurova Group was at the Stade de Geneve, and the R secton of the grandstand quickly became a small “media summit”.

The only time that Hasan Cemal and Ayşe Sözeri Cemal were apart was during the match.  Hasan Cemal, as usual, followed the game from the media press bleacher with his accredited press card around his neck.

Among themselves, the newspaper reporters were placing bets on the outcome of the game.  It was a blind ballot, utilizing small pieces of paper upon which were written the bettors’ guesses of the score.  After the 2-0 loss, as none of the bettors had guessed that score, all bets were cancelled.

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