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Greece, Turkey in Diplomatic Spat Over Galatasaray Covid Tests

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Galatasaray players and officials wait in the lounge of the Athens International Airport before they returned to Turkey. Credit: Twitter/Galatasaray

Turkey’s football club Galatasaray pulled out of a friendly match against the Greek squad Olympiacos, accusing Greece of discrimination after its officials refused to accept the players’ Covid tests.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter that Galatasaray’s treatment in Greece was unacceptable and his ministry said he had spoken by phone with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias about the incident.

Galatasaray described the incident as “clear discrimination against a Turkish team,” saying the results of the PCR tests which Galatasaray had previously carried out were not accepted by officials in Greece, which demanded new tests be conducted.

It also charged that customs and security officials in Greece behaved in an insulting way and created difficulties, prompting the club’s decision to return home.

“We expect in the name of our country an apology from Greek offices and officials,” the club said in a statement.

Galatasaray’s coach, Fatih Terim, acknowledged however that his team had been informed before hand that members would have to perform a “quick test” after landing in Greece.

He added: “We told (Greek authorities) that there are people who leave, tourists who pass without taking the test. ‘It’s the same for everyone,’ was their response. But there were people who were allowed to leave without taking the test. From that moment on, there was only one thing to do: To go back.

“Friendly matches are with friends, but this behavior was not friendly at all,” the coach said in his remarks to Turkish media.

Greece tells Galatasaray that test was a requirement for entry

Greece’s Civil Protection Minister Nikos Hardalias said Tuesday’s friendly match was not taking place in the context of an international event with an approved entry protocol, so all those arriving were subject to random PCR tests or rapid testing.

He said in a statement that the Turkish team refused to undergo rapid tests which were in accordance with Greek legislation.

“Given their refusal, the members of the mission were not allowed to enter our country, by my order,” he said.

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