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Riot police use tear gas to break up fan fight at wheelchair basketball game … wait, what? (video)

Dec 11, 2012, 6:44 PM EDT

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Apparently, wheelchair basketball is so big in Turkey, and supporters of the best teams are so rabid, that fan violence is pretty much commonplace. (Blinking) did I just type that? Anyway, the video below shows one such melee, as fans of Galatasaray — the NY Yankees of Turkish wheelchair basketball — and Besiktas going at it before, during and after a recent game.

The game at the Ahmet Comert Sports Hall in Istanbul was delayed a half hour when fans rushed the court and began fighting before the game even began.

But the main bout of violence happened six minutes from the end of the second quarter when Galatasaray were leading 31-26.

Players and staff tried to calm their fans down but their pleas went unheard as both sets of supporters continued to throw missiles at each other and then took the row to the sidelines where wheelchairs were wrecked and other equipment destroyed.

As some players made a sharp exit from the court others could only watch in disbelief. Police managed to disperse the brawling fans but the hooliganism then spread to the hallways of the arena.

Several players and supporters were reportedly hurt in the chaos. The following day at least ten fans were arrested after police reviewed the footage.

I can’t begin to wrap my mind around the irony of an athlete, already confined to a wheelchair, being injured during a fight between able-bodied fans.

What makes European sports different than ours is the club system — Galatasaray and Besiktas, for instance, are clubs which also include basketball and soccer teams, and so their fans tend to root for the club in every sport.

Fans are not allowed to attend away games between these clubs at soccer and basketball games, but the regulation doesn’t apply to other sports. The ban is now likely to cover wheelchair basketball.