MENA Sports Wrap: Turkey is the region's big hope in Euro 2024

MENA Sports Wrap: Turkey is the region's big hope in Euro 2024
Euro 2024 has started in Germany, with Turkey topping their group so far, while tragedy struck Gaza as another Palestinian referee was killed by Israel.
4 min read
21 June, 2024
Turkey is the MENA region's big hope in Euro 2024 [Getty]

Euro 24 kicked off this week with a host of players of Arab heritage representing European teams while many in the MENA region will be cheering on Turkey who compete against Portugal, Georgia and Czechia in Group F.

There have been questions over Ons Jabeur's fitness for the upcoming Paris Olympics, while tragedy struck Gaza as another Palestinian referee was killed in an Israeli airstrike.

Turkey's victory over Georgia at Euro 2024 almost postponed due to fan fan violence

Turkey's thrilling 3-1 victory over Georgia at Euro 2024 on Tuesday was almost postponed following violent clashes between the two sets of supporters.

Violence broke out more than an hour before the match kicked-off at Borussia Dortmund’s iconic Westfalenstadion, with Turkish and Georgian fans exchanging punches, brandishing weapons, and hurling missiles at each other.

Order in the terraces was only restored when German police stepped in to separate the fans with speculation that the violence, coupled with torrential rain, could lead to UEFA calling the match off.

The Group F clash was Turkey’s opening game at the tournament, while Georgia were making their first ever appearance in the Euros.

The ugly scenes in the stands were largely overshadowed by what many pundits described as the tournament's most exciting game yet.

Turkey scored two stunners while Georgia, with their first ever goal in the Euros, pushed the Crescent-Stars all the way to a thrilling finish.

Fenerbahce’s Mert Muldur put Turkey ahead with a stunning right-footed volley, but Georges Mikautadze equalised, igniting scenes of celebration.

However, Arda Guler, the 19-year-old Real Madrid prospect, looked set to secure victory for Turkey with what could be a contender for goal of the tournament.

Georgia then pushed forward to try to secure a historic point, even sending their goalkeeper up for a corner, before Muhammed Kerem Akturkoglu sealed victory for Turkey when he found an open goal on the counter-attack.

Turkey currently sit top of Group F with Portugal in second place.

Tunisia's Jabeur to skip Olympics over health concerns

Ons Jabeur will not represent Tunisia at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris as the tennis star prioritises her health.

Jabeur, the world number 10, has been struggling with a knee injury over the past two years, and is concerned that playing on hard surfaces will worsen her condition.

During the Olympics, tennis matches will be played on clay courts at the Roland Garros Stadium, meaning a switch back to clay immediately after the grass season, and before the hard-court run up to the US Open.

In a statement on X, Jabeur said: "After consulting with my medical team regarding attending the Olympics in Pairs, we have decided that the quick change of surface and the body’s adaptation required would put my knee at risk, and jeapordise the rest of my season."

"I have always loved representing my country in any competition, however, I must listen to my body and follow my medical team’s advice."

Jabeur has represented Tunisia at three consecutive Olympics Games, her first being the 2012 games in London.

The tennis ace, a US Open and two-time Wimbledon finalist, said she’ll be cheering on her teammates during the Games, which will be held between 26 July and 11 August in the French capital.

Palestinian referee hero dies

Earlier this week, Palestinian football referee Hani Tawfiq Mesmeh succumbed to life-threatening wounds caused by an Israeli attack in Gaza in May.

The referee's home suffered injuries to his stomach after Israeli strikes and heavy gunfire struck his neighbourhood in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza.

He was taken to intensive care soon after, and needed several operations to remove wounded organs including his liver and pancreas.

Mesmeh’s died from his injuries on Monday with his death confirmed by the Palestinian Olympic Committee.

It comes after another referee, Mohammed Khattab, was also killed when an Israeli bomb targeted his home in Deir Al-Balah, killing him, his wife, and his children.

Tributes have poured in for Mesmeh, with many urging FIFA to publicly condemn Israel for his killing.

Israel's brutal war in the Gaza Strip has killed several athletes and sports professionals since 7 October, among them footballer Mohammed Barakat, known as the 'Legend of Khan Younis', who played for the Palestinian national team, among other players.