Monday, July 28, 2008

Hasan Doğan - A Tribute

This is a tribute to Hasan Doğan who passed away on the 6th of July 2008 (while on vacation having lunch with Fatih Terim, who is more a face for Turkish football to the world than Doğan was in his lifetime). I had not heard of Doğan before his unfortunate demise and had it not been for a chance reading of a tribute to his achievements, I may have never known of this man who comes from a very rare breed of individuals – a loved and respected football administrator.

Hasan Doğan was the 37th President of the Turkish Football Federation and though his tenure was tragically cut short on his 143rd day in office, the outpouring of love and affection that he has received seems to suggest an impact much more significant than the short time duration warrants.

Doğan won the hearts of millions of football crazy Turks by hugging his wife Aysel overcome with joy in celebration of a Turkish goal. The open childlike expression of joy may seem commonplace to many but is not so in a country where such public display of affection is still a rarity.

However, genuine passion and love for the game are not the only qualities which set Hasan Doğan apart from your run of the mill football administrators. This was a man with a vision and a mission. Here’s a look at some ideas that he was looking to implement, each of which illustrates a desire to make football realize its potential for the fans and footballers of the country:

  • Make Turkey a hotbed for exporting football players to the rest of the world in the mode of Brazil (which if you have seen the talent available seems like a very sensible project to improve the players’ income as well as exposure)
  • Bring the 2016 European Championships to Turkey
  • Ensure leading Turkish clubs had established academies by 2011
  • Provide insurance protection for national team players

The strength of those ideas lie just not in the vision set out, but also the fact that he seems to have made progress on each of these fronts in the very short time he held office.

It is unfortunate that about the only sports administrator for whom I’ve heard and read nothing but praise had such a brief tenure in his last office. If we could have more Hasan Doğans around the world, then maybe more football players across many more countries could actually end up making a living doing what they love doing.

The President of the football federation in my country has been around for maybe twenty odd years and look at what we have achieved – a FIFA ranking of somewhere around 150 and exactly one player who made it to the third division of English football. Can we please swap these twenty years for 143 days that add real value.

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