BEIRUT, Lebanon (A.W.)—Two Turkish flags raised at the Jan. 8 Lebanese basketball match between Armenian club Homenetmen and Riyadi has sparked much controversy in the past few days. Photographs of the flags began circulating on social media networks shortly after the game—a display that many are calling a targeted attack against the Homenetmen players and fans.
Mohammed Khoder, a supporter of the Riyadi club, tweeted “Tonight we’ll be raising the Turkish flag in the basketball game against Homentmen Armenian Lebanese team! BURNNN,” prior to tip off. The tweet, which was later taken down, led people to believe that the premeditated act was deliberately provocative.
Amman-based Al Bawaba news outlet reported on the incident and published a photo that a Riyadi fan page posted on Facebook with the following message: “If you want to prevent us from raising the Turkish flag at the stadium, then prevent them from singing the Armenian national anthem at their stadium,” in Arabic.
On Dec. 9, Riyadi issued an official statement on its Facebook page in response to the incident, denouncing the raising of the Turkish flag and condemning the provocation.
While Homenetmen suffered its first loss of the season to Riyadi on Jan. 8 after losing 73-66, the team continues to sit atop the standings in the first division of the Lebanese Basketball league. After eight games, the Armenian club has seven wins and one loss.
The Homenetmen Beirut basketball team was founded in 1924 and is considered one of the oldest in the country. The team has one of the biggest fan-bases in Lebanon and thousands of supporters worldwide.