A big charity match in Turkey organised by legendary former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o has been postponed after an attempted coup in the country.
It had been announced that superstars including Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta are not in Antalya as planned for the game on Saturday night while the participation of coach Diego Maradona and Neymar was also in major doubt.
Many of the players who had agreed to take part would have needed to fly to the south of Turkey via Istanbul, the country’s largest city that was badly shaken in the early hours of Friday when a section of the military tried to take over Government leading to 90 deaths and a thousand wounded.
Eto’o took to Instagram and Facebook to reveal the match was cancelled, writing: ‘Dear all, I am sorry to announce that for security reasons, Eto’o Charity Match, that was supposed to take place today [Saturday] at 8pm at Antalya Arena, is postponed until further notice. I thank each and everyone of you for your continuous support and count on your understanding. #Love.‘
A number of famous football figures were already in Antalya to support Eto’o including Carles Puyol, Deco and former England manager Fabio Capello.
Although the tourist resort is 400 miles to the south of Istanbul, security at hotels has been tightened up considerably to help protect the stars.
The match was cancelled by Eto’o on Saturday afternoon.
Eto’o, 35, currently plays for Antalyaspor and had spent months organising the match to mark the 10th anniversary of his Foundation.
Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan had originally agreed to attend but is in the capital Ankara as the danger of further insurrection continues.
Responding quickly to events in Turkey, Barcelona’s official Twitter account sent out the following message:’FC Barcelona players Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi, who were set to play a friendly match in Turkey organised by former Barca star Samuel Eto’o, are in Spain.
‘FC Barcelona player Arda Turan, former players Carles Puyol, Deco and Eric Abidal, as well as former director Alejandro Echeverria are in Turkey, far from areas of danger and in constant contact with the club.‘
The charity game had been backed by the world tourism forum and those invited to take part included Luis Suarez, Eden Hazard, Francesco Totti, Michael Essien, Xavi, Jay Jay Okocha, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Demba Ba and Didier Drogba, although unclear how many travelled.