Soccer Team Shares Plunge After Fans Unfurl Rocky Balboa Banner During Match

Updated on
  • Fans unfurled banner of fictional boxer at Galatasaray match
  • Prime minister launched probe, sending team’s shares plunging

A banner of Rocky is raised during the match between Galatasaray SK and Fenerbahce AS on Oct. 22, 2017.

Source: VI-Images via Getty Images

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim ordered a probe on Monday into a giant banner depicting fictional boxer Rocky Balboa at a soccer match at Galatasaray stadium, sending the team’s shares plunging on the Borsa Istanbul.

The banner unfurled at Sunday’s match featured an image of the character portrayed by actor Sylvester Stallone and was framed by the words “Rise Up” and a slogan reading: “They Look Big Because You’re on Your Knees.” Pro-government Twitter accounts alleged that the display was inspired by the words of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric blamed by Turkey’s government for a coup attempt last year. 

Gulen lives in self-imposed exile in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, while Rocky has a statue dedicated to him in Philadelphia, his home town and Pennsylvania’s largest city. “Pennsylvania” is used as shorthand in Turkey for references to Gulen and his following, which the government has classified as a terrorist organization.

The prime minister’s statement didn’t elaborate on the reasons for the probe.

In a statement, Galatasaray said the banner and slogans were being taken out of context and that it had received all necessary permissions for displaying them before the match. It criticized those who were “trying to put the names of Galatasaray and the terror organization side-by-side.”

Galatasaray shares dropped as much as 5 percent, the most in more than a month, before closing down 4.9 percent at 8.37 liras per share. The team is in first place in the Turkish soccer league.

The match between Galatasaray and crosstown Istanbul rival Fenerbahce ended in a 0-0 tie.

— With assistance by Ercan Ersoy

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