Galatasaray Triumphs in the Grueling Süper Lig Marathon

The most chaotic, eventful, record-breaking, and scandal-filled season in Süper Lig history has come to an end. Tactics, decisions, statistics, silenced referees, statements, and transfers were hot topics throughout the season. As Galatasaray emerged victorious, it’s time to recall the highlights of the season one last time before shelving them for good.

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The Race Begins with the Transfer Window

In the Süper Lig, the transfer period is when sports achievements and economic balances are nearly forgotten, with clubs fearlessly accumulating millions in debt despite inflation and currency imbalances. The Süper Lig is often a destination for both aging stars (e.g., Ndombele, Ziyech, Dzeko, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Balotelli) looking to revitalize their careers and young African and South American talents aiming to make a leap (e.g., Jean Onana, Batista Mendy, Tete, Dele-Bashiru), as well as dual passport holders with solid training abroad (e.g., Can Keleş, Kerem Demirbay, Oğuz Aydın). The 2023 summer transfer period saw 277 new players join the league. The rivalry between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe had its trailer during this period, with key players like Tadic, Dzeko, Fred, Szymanski, Zaha, and Ziyech joining different big teams as transfer coups. There were also departures, with beloved young talents like Sacha Boey, Arda Güler, and Altay Bayındır leaving for Europe’s big clubs.

Halil Umut Meler Assaulted

The December 11 match between Ankaragücü and Rizespor will be remembered for years, with scenes that will make millions cringe in embarrassment on behalf of a sports executive. After the final whistle, Ankaragücü President Faruk Koca and his entourage stormed the field, punching FIFA-listed referee Halil Umut Meler and continuing to beat him on the ground. Instead of self-reflection, the incident was used for political show and propaganda by the federation and the government. Faruk Koca and the other officials did not face charges for assault and received reduced penalties for their bans. Some fan groups even justified Koca’s actions, singing chants in his support. The consequence of assaulting a referee representing Turkey in international matches was a paltry 560,000 TL fine for the club, a five-match spectator ban, and a 400-day ban for Koca. This incident highlighted the diminishing value placed on human health, institutional reputation, and pride.

İstanbulspor Withdraws from the Field

As the Halil Umut Meler incident gradually lost its impact, the league quickly found another controversy. İstanbulspor President Ecmel Sarıalioğlu, perhaps surprised by his team’s 2-1 defeat against Trabzonspor, decided to withdraw the team from the field. This decision was later revealed to be in protest of the refereeing. However, neither former referees turned commentators nor the federation could identify any direct or indirect errors by referee Ali Şansalan. İstanbulspor, destined for relegation, received a three-point deduction, and Sarıalioğlu got a 90-day ban and a 780,000 TL fine, which was a huge morale boost for the struggling club(!)

Disrespect from Saudi Arabia

Another controversial event occurred before the Super Cup match to be played in Saudi Arabia. The joint decision by Turkey’s two prestigious clubs and the Federation to play in Saudi Arabia on the 100th anniversary of the Republic was criticized for being irresponsible and ill-intentioned. When the clubs decided to play in Atatürk t-shirts and with national anthems, they faced backlash from Arab officials, leading them to refuse to play and return home. Federation President Mehmet Büyükekşi, unable to defend Atatürk or resign, passed the blame to the clubs, fell ill, and stayed out of sight for a week. This incident, like many others, was quickly forgotten amid the intense season.

Incidents in Trabzonspor vs. Fenerbahçe Match

On March 17, during the match between Trabzonspor and Fenerbahçe, Turkish football fans were unaware of the upcoming scandal. The intense match ended in a 3-2 victory for Fenerbahçe. However, post-match celebrations turned violent when hooligans attacked Fenerbahçe players and staff on the field. The brawl escalated as Fenerbahçe players retaliated. Although there were no fatalities or serious injuries, the lack of adequate security and the continuation of the match under such conditions highlighted the disregard for athlete safety and human life. Instead of shame and efforts to prevent recurrence, some tried to legitimize their actions, showcasing the “Sports Nation” we live in.

Super Cup in Şanlıurfa

To mitigate the scandal in Saudi Arabia, the Super Cup was proposed to be played in Şanlıurfa on April 7. However, Fenerbahçe President Ali Koç requested a postponement due to their UEFA Conference League match against Olympiakos. The TFF did not change the date, leading Fenerbahçe to field their U19 team, withdraw after conceding a goal, and lose 3-0 by default. Olympiakos, playing every three days, went on to win the Conference League, while Fenerbahçe finished the season without any trophies.

Trabzonspor and Beşiktaş in the League and Cup Finals

Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor, who had disappointing league seasons, aimed for European qualification and a cup win. Beşiktaş, having changed coaches five times, won the Turkish Cup. The transfers of Al Musrati and Ernest Muçi in the second half of the season excited fans for the next season. Trabzonspor, although not winning the cup, finished third in the league.

Rising Istanbul Teams: Başakşehir and Kasımpaşa

Two Istanbul clubs left a significant mark this season: Başakşehir and Kasımpaşa. With quality squads and impressive performances, they made their presence felt. Başakşehir, after a poor start, hired rising coach Çağdaş Atan and secured a European spot by finishing fourth. Kasımpaşa, under young coach Sami Uğurlu, played attractive football and finished fifth, adding excitement to the league.

Championship Race

The title race was clearly between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe due to their strong squads and new signings. Fenerbahçe’s strong start and consistent performance, led by new signings Szymanski and Dzeko, gave their fans hope for a title after ten years. Key contributions came from local players Ferdi, İsmail, İrfan Can, and Cengiz. Meanwhile, Galatasaray struggled to find their ideal XI due to inconsistent performances and injuries but surged in the final stretch with contributions from Barış, Mertens, and Icardi. Fenerbahçe’s off-field issues affected their focus, allowing Galatasaray to take the lead in April and May. Despite a derby win at Rams Park keeping Fenerbahçe’s hopes alive, Galatasaray secured the title with a win in Konya, finishing with 102 points. Both teams had their best seasons in league history.


The 2023-24 season saw many records broken due to the long 38-match season and the dominance of two teams. Galatasaray became the first team to reach three-digit points, with 33 wins and the highest average points per game (2.68). Okan Buruk’s team set a record with 17 consecutive wins from weeks 20 to 36. Muslera increased his record for most clean sheets in a season to 17 and won his seventh title in 13 seasons, surpassing Şenol Güneş as the most successful goalkeeper.

Outstanding Individual Performances

Galatasaray dominated individual awards, with Icardi winning the top scorer title with 25 goals and Mertens leading in assists with 16. Fenerbahçe had six players contributing double-digit scores: Dzeko (21 goals, 3 assists), Batshuayi (12 goals, 1 assist), İrfan Can (12 goals, 7 assists), Tadic (10 goals, 17 assists), Szymanski (10 goals, 11 assists), and Cengiz (9 goals, 2 assists). Mame Thiam of Pendikspor and Rey Manaj of Sivasspor also impressed with 18 goals each. Kasımpaşa’s Haris Hajradinovic provided 14 assists, supporting their top-five finish. Notable local performers included Aytaç Kara, Semih Kılıçsoy, Can Keleş, Oğuz Aydın, and Levent Mercan.

A Break: European Championship

The cycle has begun, broken, and ended. The champion is crowned, the book is closed, and shelved. Before the new cycle starts, we have to host our guest who visits every four years. Our hope is that Turkey uses the tension from this chaotic season to its advantage, achieving positive results, ending disputes, and creating a positive atmosphere that spreads throughout the country and into the next season. May old habits, violence, and failures stay far from our league forever.



Wikipedia | Süper Lig istatistikleri ve rekorları listesi

Skorer | İstanbulspor-Trabzonspor maçında tartışma yaratan pozisyon! Eski hakemler yorumladı: Hiçbir kanıt yok

Gazete Duvar | İstanbulspor sahadan çekildi: Cezası ne olacak?

FotoMaç | Sahadan çekilen İstanbulspor‘un cezası belli oldu!

AA | Faruk Koca’ya talimatlara aykırı cezası

NTV Spor | Süper Lig’de 2023/24 sezonunun tüm transferler

Yiğit Şen

Sports Editor