Are the real Turks white

Türkgücü Munich: Half moon on a white-blue background

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It's a good 20 minute drive from Munich to the German-Turkish club that wants to play in the second division. A99 heading east, exit Kirchheim, stop in front of the restaurant Zum Kelten, walk past the toilet house and the concrete runway for the stick shooters, turn left again and you enter the main stand in the Heimstetten sports park. Here, in the SV Heimstetten stadium, Türkgücü Munich is currently playing its home games.

Today, on a Saturday at the end of July, it is against FC Memmingen. Fourth matchday in the Regionalliga Bayern, fourth league. Türkgücü, the newcomer, is the favorite. Memmingen lost the first three games. Türkgücü so far only one, in the previous week against Garching. Unnecessary. Garching made two goals out of one chance.

"That was a given game in Garching," says one of the loyal fans. His counterpart nods. A third comes in. "Merhaba," he says. "Griaß di", reply the others.

Türkgücü was at the end of the eighties, back then as SV Türk Gücü Munich, the third largest sporting club in Munich, behind Bayern and almost level with 1860. In 2001, Türk Gücü - which translates as Turkish force - had to file for bankruptcy. Now the club from east Munich wants to enter the third division under a new name. President Hasan Kivran even speaks of promotion to the second division in the next four years. Türkgücü would be the first immigrant club in Germany to make it into professional football.

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Migrant clubs have existed since organized sports existed in Germany. When the Federal Republic recruited guest workers, as they were then called, in the post-war period, there were more. A few years ago, some clubs founded by migrants played in the highest German amateur league, such as Türkiyemspor Berlin. Today you can find them mainly in the lower leagues. In the meantime it is no longer just Turkish or Italian clubs, but also Serbian, Irish, Greek and Spanish clubs.

Like many migrant associations, the Türkgücü team is multinational. In the game against Memmingen, there are three players with Turkish-sounding names on the field: Serhat Imsak, Furkan Zorba and the captain Yasin Yilmaz, all born in Germany. Kickoff. In the stands, someone who doesn't hold up with Türkgücü knows what FCM has to do: "You have to take your chances against the Turks." After ten minutes, Yilmaz, a real Munich player, scored 1-0 with a penalty. The signal of a fog horn roars from the stadium speakers, then scooter: "Döp döp döp dö dö döp döp döp!"

Migrant associations are a political issue

Four men celebrate on a small podium on the right edge of the main stand. They are holding a beer in their hands that sloshes easily out of the mug and splashes onto the floor next to the reserve beer. Every now and then the men Imsak and Yilmaz shout out a few instructions to the field in Turkish. They can identify with Yilmaz, who went to Türkgücü with his father as a child. The striker was born in Munich and is in his third year with the club, longer than any of his teammates. Most of those who watch have Turkish roots. Many have been in Germany since the second or third generation.

Migrant associations are a political issue, they constantly have to defend themselves against prejudice. Many associate one thing above all with them: parallel societies. The club members did not integrate, say some amateur footballers, spectators and officials. And what happens, for example, when Türkgücü is promoted and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan becomes aware of the club? Will the Türkgücüs games then become an election party for AKP supporters?