An acclaimed exhibition that explores the stories and faces of Europe and its most popular sport, football, opened in Istanbul on Thursday with a ceremony featuring UEFA representatives and local dignitaries.
The launch of Only A Game?, which has been brought to Turkey by UEFA in partnership with the Turkish Football Assocation (TFF) and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (Culture AG), was attended by UEFA first vice-president Şenes Erzik, TFF president Mahmut Özgener, mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbaş, senior adviser to the UEFA president, William Gaillard, and Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency chairman Şekib Avdagiç.
Passion for football
The interactive exhibition, designed by Olivier Guilbaud and conceived to view Europe through football, is showing between 21 January and 30 April as part of Istanbul's 2010 European Capital of Culture activities, following its successful runs in Brussels in 2007 and in Liverpool in 2008/09. "We want this exhibition to be seen in Istanbul where there are so many football lovers," Şenes Erzik said. "Istanbul is world-famous as a football city, where the rivalry between the fans and the passion for football is so hot that it reaches the deepest parts of the Bosporus."
Erzik pointed to the question mark in the exhibition's title and explained: "We wanted to get the fans to ask themselves ... 'What does football mean to us?' 'How did European football evolve?' 'How did football change Europe?' This exhibition will answer those questions, and we will also find our own special pieces inside." Only A Game? combines traditional museum elements with interactive features as it examines the sport's social and cultural role on this continent.
TFF president Mahmut Özgener underlined how the exhibition tells visitors the story of European football's last 50 years. "You will be able to see important matches, key players of yesteryear, as well as kits and artefacts belonging to Turkish teams that competed in European competitions. Exhibitions like this serve to increase the love of football in a country and to generate further interest in the game. This exhibition will be open to visitors in one of the most central locations in Istanbul – and you will find great memories here," he said.
Capital of Culture activity
Istanbul's mayor Kadir Topbaş added that the city was rediscovering its identity during its year as European Capital of Culture. "People are unpeeling the many layers of Istanbul as our city, whose history goes back 8,500 years, takes the spotlight as Capital of Culture. We at the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality are doing our best to contribute to these activities. Today we have opened Only A Game? at a venue where many international events and congresses have been organised. We are delighted to do so, because this exhibition gives us the opportunity to see the memories of football and perhaps even recall our own."
Part of the original motivation for Only A Game? was to chart the development of the European community after the Treaty of Rome in 1957, in tandem with the growth of the European club competitions. It contains a selection of prestigious artefacts, trophies and memorabilia from the history of European football, including the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League trophies. Visitors to the exhibition's Istanbul home of the Taksim Cumhuriyet Sanat Galerisi – a historical building converted into an art gallery – will also find valuable pieces from the museums of the city's three leading clubs: Fenerbahçe SK, Galatasaray AŞ and Beşiktaş JK. The exhibition will be open to the public every day except Monday, between 10.00 and 22.00, with a €1 admission fee.
Address: Taksim Cumhuriyet Sanat Galerisi
Open: 10.00-22.00 local time (except Mondays)
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