The Turkish government has issued a diplomatic note to Iceland denouncing what it is calling “disrespectful” and “violent” behaviour against the country’s men’s national football team, aa.com reports. The football team arrived in Keflavík airport on Sunday night in advance of their Euro 2020 qualifying match against Iceland on Tuesday. They claim that they were then subjected to excessive search and security measures at passport control and were held for around three hours before being allowed to leave the airport.
A representative from Isavia, the company that owns and manages the Keflavík airport, told RÚV that per international regulations, airport employees were obliged to conduct a security check on the team and that it was more intensive because the flight on which the team arrived departed from an airport that is not part of the One Stop Security area whose security protocols apply to all airports in the EEA. Isavia maintains that as such, all of the passengers on the flight were subjected to the same security checks – including Icelanders. Isavia also says that the security checks took an unusually long time on Sunday night because passengers were traveling with a high number of electronic devices and liquids in their luggage, all of which needed to be individually screened.
Isavia contests Turkey’s claims that players were held for three hours, however: they say that the security wait was 80 minutes from the time that the aircraft arrived. The flight arrived at 7.40pm, representatives say, and the last passenger went through customs at roughly 9.00pm.
Feelings are running particularly high in the wake of the event, with some players on the Icelandic squad and Icelandic sports journalists even receiving threats over the matter. It’s likely that tensions were exacerbated during an interview that Turkish midfielder Emre Belozoglu gave after going through security; an individual who has since been identified and is presumed to be a Belgian national stuck a dishwashing brush in the player’s face like a microphone while he was being interviewed by reporters.
Turkey and Iceland do not maintain embassies in each other’s countries, but Fazli Corman, Turkey’s ambassador in Norway, is apparently on his way to Iceland to follow up on the situation. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also posted about the incident on Twitter, saying “The treatment towards our national team at the Iceland airport is not acceptable in terms of both diplomatic and humanitarian practices.”