Turkish football club's boss declares war on beards

ISTANBUL - The chairman of Turkish football club Genclerbirligi has vowed to fine any of his players who have beards, after claiming that some looked like students of an Islamic school.

"I'm 80 and I shave every day," said Ilhan Cavcav, chairman of the Ankara-based club which is currently ninth in the first division.

"Is this an imam school? You are a sportsman. You should be a model for the youth," he said in an interview with the Dogan news agency.

Genclerbirligi will fine any player who takes to the pitch with a beard 25,000 Turkish lira (S$14,500).

Cavcav cited the bearded Croatian coach of Besiktas, Slaven Bilic, and that club's midfielder Olcay Sahan as "bad examples".

Volkan Demirel, goalkeeper of reigning Turkish champions Fenerbahce, is another full-bearded player who has sparked Cavcav's ire.

He said he had appealed to Yildirim Demiroren, the Turkish Football Federation chairman, to implement a nationwide ban on footballers having beards.

"He told me that they could not impose such a restriction because Uefa would not let them do it. I am fed up with this Uefa. I wish we had some other place to play our football," he said.

Turkey's government is often accused by its critics of trying to make Turkish society more Islamic.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was educated in a religious school, sports a thick moustache in common with many Turkish men, but not a beard.