“PSG and Mr. Nasser are friends. “It is with these words that the president of the Turkish club Başakşehir tried on Tuesday to calm the spirits before the Champions League match Wednesday against PSG in a tense context between France and Turkey, linked to the defense of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad by French President Emmanuel Macron.
In an interview with Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency, Göksel Gümüsdag, a step-relative of Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan, tried to prevent this diplomatic crisis from spilling over onto the football fields. “Paris Saint-Germain is a friendly club. The entire management team, starting with Mr. Nasser (Editor’s note: Al-Khelaïfi, the president of the Parisian club), is our friend, ”he insisted.
“We will be very happy to receive this world-class club,” added Göskel Gümüsdag, as the Parisians landed in Turkey this Tuesday in the middle of the afternoon.
Excellent relations between Turkey and Qatar
The reference to the Qatari owner of PSG is not trivial: President Erdogan maintains excellent relations with the Emir of Qatar Tamim ben Hamad Al-Thani, to whom Nasser Al-Khelaïfi is very close, which should lead the Turkish authorities to do everything to avoid possible disturbances this Wednesday evening.
The match will be played behind closed doors at Istanbul’s Fatih-Terim Stadium (6:55 p.m., Wednesday). Başakşehir, a club created six years ago, experienced a meteoric rise until his coronation in the Turkish league last summer. Renowned for its budgetary rigor and generous offensive play, the club is also accused of acquaintances with President Erdogan.