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TURKEY | SUPER LIG

Turkish police fire tear gas at Besiktas fans

Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse thousands of Besiktas supporters who had gathered outside their new stadium to celebrate the first match at the venue.

Turkish police fire tear gas at Besiktas fans
YASIN AKGUL AFP

Besiktas played Super Lig rivals Bursaspor tonight in the first match at the over 40,000 capacity Vodafone Arena on the shores of the Bosphorus which was opened by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a day earlier.

The opening of the stadium on Sunday by Erdogan -- with almost no-one present in the stands -- did not go down well with all Besiktas fans, many of whom are fiercely hostile to the Turkish leader.

With Monday's match long sold out, thousands of Besiktas fans clogged roads outside the venue in order to be present in the vicinity when the match took place.

But police trucks then fired water cannon at the fans outside the stadium as armoured anti-riot officers fired tear gas, sending fans running for cover, an AFP photographer said.

Sin tituloTurkish anti-riot police stand next to burning torch before the Turkish Spor Toto Super league football match between Besiktas and Bursaspor at vodafone arena stadium on April 11

Others responded by throwing bottles in anger at the police.

Fans have taken to social media to accuse Erdogan of opting to open the stadium at a closed VIP event on Sunday rather than risking the wrath of thousands of fans at the Bursaspor clash.

Besiktas in 2013 played for the last time at their old stadium in the same historic location on the shores of the Bosphorus just above the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce Palace.

Besiktas, locked in a thrilling fight for the league title with arch Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce, have been homeless since then and the opening of the new stadium has been greeted with excitement by fans.

Members of the club's hardcore Carsi fan club played a key role in 2013 protests against Erdogan over the development of an Istanbul park that represented one of the biggest challenges to his rule.

Thirty five members of the group were put on trial on widely-ridiculed charges of trying to stage a coup but all were acquitted in late December 2015.