An Important Announcement From Fenerbahçe WorldwideNews • Author: Nathan Redd • Saturday, July 24, 2010
On July 24, 2006 - exactly four years ago today - Fenerbahçe Worldwide was created. What began as a simple blog from an American supporter would evolve into something more than anyone ever dreamed. Thousands of members and millions of hits later, Fenerbahçe Worldwide has become the home to fans across the world who support our team. Now, on the fourth anniversary of Fenerbahçe Worldwide's inception, we say goodbye.
In the summer of 2006, I was feeling desperate. I had taken my first trip to Turkey the year before, and through a couple of Turkish friends and my encounters in Istanbul, I had started keeping up with a football team called Fenerbahçe. As an American, I admittedly grew up hating football. It made no sense to me whatsoever. After I graduated from college, I left the comforts of the United States and began traveling abroad. I realized during my journeys that the world loved this game known as 'football.' The world outside of America, at least.
As I began to travel, I also began watching more football. I made an effort to learn the rules and watch it with an open mind, rather than my previous American skepticism. As I did, I started to fall in love with this game. My appreciation for the sport first led me to watch any teams that were on television. When you live in the United States, that usually means a lot of English football and an occasional Italian match, but not much else. While I saw other American fans devoutly following teams like Manchester United, Arsenal, AC Milan, and Juventus, my attention drifted away. That's because in 2005, shortly before my first trip to Turkey, a Turkish friend of mine invited me over to watch the world's biggest derby - Fenerbahçe versus Galatasaray. I realized after watching this team, these fans, that I had been exposed to subpar football before. Don't get me wrong, those other clubs were fantastic. But they weren't Fenerbahçe.
After I returned from my first trip to Turkey, I began trying to keep up with this team in Istanbul that had captured my interest. But there was a major problem: there was almost no information on the team in English, and the extent of my Turkish started and stopped with "merhaba." As I began looking around online, looking at enough Turkish websites to make my head spin, I started to figure out when we won and when we lost, but not much else. People thought I was simply mad. "Fenerbahçe? Who is Fenerbahçe? You are an American who likes 'soccer' and you support some Turkish team?" That was a common exchange I had back then, and it still is today.
In July 2006, I decided I must not be alone. Surely there was some other insane person out there who liked this team, but like myself, did not speak Turkish. I started a simple blog and decided to call it Fenerbahçe Worldwide. I would write a little about when the team played, who scored, and report any other news that I could somehow figure out. I was told that Fenerbahçe was a massive club; a "European power," they said. But why was there no information on this global giant in English?
When I started FBWW, I thought maybe another fan would find the website, or maybe I was alone in my fanaticism for this team. Less than a year later, the Turkish media caught on to me. Before long, FBWW was featured in nearly every newspaper in Turkey, and I was asked to write an article for Hürriyet newspaper. I was doing interviews for Lig TV, Fenerbahçe TV, Fenerbahçe Magazine, and countless others. I admittedly got a kick out of the attention, but my predominant thinking centered around my excitement for having the ability to tell more and more people about Fenerbahçe, this club that I love.
Over the years, Fenerbahçe Worldwide has evolved into a respected football website with a journalistic perspective. We were recognized and accredited by UEFA as an official news source on Turkish football. We had a foray into Portuguese and Spanish, in addition to our English content, and we had countless offers and meetings about turning FBWW into something much different. While we listened to each offer and evaluated all of our possibilities, in the end, we said no to all of them. The reason we did this is because we did not want to turn FBWW into something it wasn't. A fan created this website for other fans to be able to share in the passion of Fenerbahçe. My intention was never to use it to become wealthy or achieve anything personally. I only wanted it to get bigger and bigger in order to take Fenerbahçe to all of the world.
We've had a few staff changes over the years, but two years ago, my friend Mehmet Pozam agreed to help me out on the site. Mehmet was actually way too accomplished to be writing for this site, so I was thrilled to have his help. He shared my passion and my vision, and he's become more than a contributor because of it. Without Mehmet, FBWW would have folded a long time ago. I never would have been able to keep up, but Mehmet also saw what I saw. He understood that we could take Fenerbahçe to all the world, and his priorities were the same as mine. Mehmet and I put the club first in everything, turning down offers to sell the website, take on other partners, and turn the website into a profit machine, because we wanted it to be pure in its intentions.
Fenerbahçe Worldwide has continued to grow and get bigger and bigger, and Mehmet and I have continued to operate the website by ourselves for the last two years, occasionally getting a little help from contributors. We've been extremely fortunate to be asked to be a part of a number of media opportunities, and we've worked hand-in-hand with the club itself on many occasions. Fenerbahçe has been very good to us over the years, and we've done everything possible to act as representatives of the club as well. We've helped to accomodate media requests for the club, as well as work with others associated with the club.
As our workload continued to increase on the website, it became more difficult and tedious for Mehmet and I to keep up. I went to graduate school to study sport management, exclusively for the purpose of using my education and experience to eventually help the club in other ways. Mehmet also finished his university, earning a prestigious degree in hopes of using his media and communications experience to help Fener continue to grow. Additionally, both of us have had jobs doing other things in addition to family responsibilities. We realized that for Fenerbahçe Worldwide to continue to grow, we needed help. FBWW has been more than a job or an activity to Mehmet and myself. It is a passion, and it is what we would love to continue doing every day, permanently. But we needed help in order to achieve our vision of taking Fenerbahçe to the next level and expand the club's global image.
We were approached with a lucrative offer earlier this year, but we rejected the deal, because it would have required us to turn Fenerbahçe Worldwide into something it is not, and something cheap that the fans don't deserve. Instead, we approached the club and pitched our ideas to several club officials, with presentations that also required me to travel to Istanbul. We were confident that we would be able to achieve our dreams of expanding Fenerbahçe into unchartered areas globally. We felt that our plan to partner with the club would meet the growing demand for news and content on the team in other languages, as well as give Mehmet and I the help we greatly needed. Unfortunately, we were unable to get the positive response we hoped for.
After careful evaluation, meetings, and planning, Mehmet and I mutually decided to cease Fenerbahçe Worldwide today, on our fourth anniversary of the website. To be honest, tears were shed as we came to this decision. Both Mehmet and I have felt an emptiness inside as this day grew near, experiencing a feeling similar to a relationship break-up. This was not a decision we wanted to make today, or twenty years from now. It is a decision that we had to make.
Our vision and dream continues to be taking Fenerbahçe into all of the world, using languages, media resources, and our university education and industry expertise that we've gained from doing this for years. However, we lack the financial resources and the time to be able to continue this. We simply can't continue our mission of serving the fans without the club's assistance. Because of these constraints, this will be the last article to appear on Fenerbahçe Worldwide.
As Mehmet and I have talked this through, we discussed the things we would miss, and how empty it will seem to not be able to bring the latest news and information on the club to fans whose primary language is not Turkish. One common theme kept coming back to both of us. We'll miss writing articles, we'll miss translating news, and we'll miss searching through newspapers and websites around the world each day to bring news on the club to its fans. But most of all, we'll miss you. Mehmet and I read every message and every e-mail that comes to us. We check each week to see who signed up for the website, even as that number climbs into the thousands. We know many of you personally, and we feel that we know all of you. You are our family, and it's been a tremendous honor for Mehmet and I to serve you.
We have put four years into taking Fenerbahçe to the world, without vacations, time off, and often putting aside important duties to post news. We also did this without ever making any profit whatsoever. We did this for Fenerbahçe, because we believe it is the greatest club in the world. In fact, we know it is...because of its fans. You make Fenerbahçe the greatest club in the world. We all cheer for footballers and we share the joy and sorrow of wins and losses. But the club is only as strong as its fans. This is why Fenerbahçe is the greatest club in the world. It's because of you.
As proud as I am of creating this website, Mehmet has been the one who has taken it to the next level. And he would like to share a few words with our readers as well:
For me, it all started in the early days of 2007. Apparently, this was only a few months after the creation of Fenerbahçe Worldwide. Little did I know that it would soon become a big part of my life. Back then, I had created a Facebook group called ‘Fenerbahçe Centennial’ where every now and then I would give updates in English on the club’s 100th year celebrations and also feature scores on the football and basketball teams’ games in European competitions.
Facebook was slowly becoming a phenomenon and it was still very new to Turkey. With this website that single-handedly reduced the ‘global village’ into one easily-accessible virtual community, I felt that there would be people around the world seeking information on Fenerbahçe. And I was right! It was there that I met Nathan and started learning about his story. Seeing that we shared exactly the same vision, I answered his call and decided to join ranks in July 2008 – following my return from Belgium – and began helping Nathan spread Fenerbahçe to the world.
Starting off as a contributor, my transition from writer to editor was fast. Being a Communications & Media major at my university (now a graduate), my main focus was to enhance Fenerbahçe Worldwide’s journalistic aspect. Rather than treating it like a blog, together with Nathan we looked at it as a news website; a reliable source of daily information on Fenerbahçe, the Turkcell Süper Lig and also the Milli Takım. Although the website was non-profit, we tried to do our best to keep a professional approach. Soon we started ‘living’ Fenerbahçe Worldwide day and night, 24/7.
During my two years on the website, being able to promote Fenerbahçe and Turkish football on a global scale, being able to reach Fenerbahçe fans and football enthusiasts from USA to Australia, from Europe to the Arab World, was priceless. Meeting up in Istanbul with Fenerbahçe fans coming from as far as Norway to Dubai, taking them inside the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, watching a match in Kadıköy side-by-side, and even going together to an away match in Ankara. Knowing that I have served the football club which I am a trueborn fan of, on such an international level, means a lot to me.
Maybe the pinnacle of my FBWW career was receiving media accreditation for the UEFA Cup Final and being amongst foreign journalists at the media tent at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium. That day when I stood up and said, “Mehmet Pozam, representing Fenerbahçe Worldwide” and asked Mesut Özil a question, I understood that I had been successful in what I was doing and felt that this was what I had to do in life.
Fenerbahçe Worldwide was an A-to-Z learning experience for me, from online journalism to having my work published in the written press. My work was cited in numerous websites, including Fenerbahçe USA and Kooora.com. I made appearances on television and radio, going live on Fenerbahçe TV and BBC World Service Radio. They were all an amazing experience for me.
I have one person to thank that gave me the chance to experience all of this; someone who will always remain my good friend - Nathan Redd. Together we gave a lot of effort, and together we sacrificed a lot. We tried hard to take Fenerbahçe Worldwide to the next step and turn it into something permanent.
Perhaps we now leave you empty-handed and deprived of something you cherish, however we do need to support ourselves and make a living. Despite everything, I am very pleased to have shared this experience with all of you and to have known you. If we made any contribution or have had any part in introducing you to Fenerbahçe and helping you become a Yellow Canaries' fan, that would be very gratifying for us.
- Mehmet Pozam, Executive Editor
Fenerbahçe fans, I want to leave you with a final thought. One of the first phrases I learned in Turkish was "Bir gün herkes Fenerbahçeli olacak," which means "One day everyone will be a Fenerbahçe fan." That phrase became my motto, and it was my mission statement every day as I worked with Fenerbahçe Worldwide. I still believe it, and I believe one day fans from the United States to Zimbabwe, England to Peru, will be able to read about the world's greatest club in their native language. While our work on FBWW concludes today with this article, our work to expand Turkish football does not. You can leave a job, but you cannot leave a passion. This is the end of a chapter, but the beginning of things to come. Our loyal readers, we truly love you, and we are looking forward to sharing our support with you for years to come. Thank you for giving us the motivation to do what we've done for four years. You are the reason for our success, and the success of Fenerbahçe. Keep spreading your passion for the Yellow Canaries, because one day, everyone will be a Fenerbahçe fan.
- Nathan L. Redd, Editor-in-Chief, and Mehmet Pozam, Executive Editor