Was it a toilet brush or a dishwashing brush?
- Turkish media called the team’s treatment “disrespectful” and “racist”
- Airport officials have defended the searches as routine and sought to blame the delay on some of the Turkish players for not being cooperative
- Iceland’s airport operator said the inspections the players underwent were mandatory for arrivals not covered by agreements with the EU
Regardless, it has sparked a diplomatic row between Iceland and Turkey.
Turkey has lodged an official protest after its national football team was delayed by bag searches at customs and then confronted by a man wielding the brush like a microphone at Reykjavik airport.
Video footage showed the brush popping up through the media scrum toward captain Emre Belezoglu’s face as if it were a microphone.
Tweet: To make matters worse a reporter decided to hold a toilet brush to the face of Emre Belözoğlu
Turkish media called the team’s treatment “disrespectful” and “racist”.
The country’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, tweeted that it was “unacceptable from the point of diplomatic and humane practices”.
Iceland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed a formal protest was lodged, but airport officials defended the customs searches as routine and sought to blame the delay on some of the Turkish players for not being cooperative.
Iceland’s airport operator, ISAVIA, said the inspections the players underwent were mandatory for arrivals not covered by agreements with the European Union.
However, it acknowledged the team had waited longer than usual to clear security due to an alleged lack of cooperation.
“Requests to remove electronics and liquid were not entirely met,” the operator said in a statement.
Still, it said the procedure was “swift” and the players passed through customs within 80 minutes of landing — disputing Turkish media reports of a process that took two hours.
So who was responsible for the brush?
The hashtag #TurksAreComingForIceland began trending on Twitter after the incident as official statements were released.
Turkish football fans wasted no time in trying to track down the offender, first mistakenly pointing the finger at Benedikt Gretarsson, a local reporter.
“The idiot with the brush is NOT me. I have nothing but respect for your players and your great nation,” he tweeted.
Henry Birgir’s tweet: Dear Turkey. The guy with the brush is not Iceland media. Greetings from the Icelandic media.
Fans then found the Facebook page of a Belgian named Corentin Siamang, declaring he was the culprit.
It is yet to be confirmed whether he was responsible, but his page appears to have been hacked, with posts and photos supporting the Turkish football team now plentiful.
Members of Iceland’s team said they have had to deal with delays on returning home, too, notably in 2015 after returning from Konya in Turkey.
The Turkish team is in Iceland for a European Championship qualifying match.
Can Okar’s tweet: Grandkid: “Tell us how the great Iceland-Turkey War of 2019 started again!”