Get To Know Istanbul Soccer Teams Better


If you’re a big soccer fan, you might know that both playing and watching a soccer game is a big deal in Turkey. It’s because Turkish people love having a great team spirit. During a vacation in Istanbul, If you ever come across people that are singing loudly together, it’s highly possible that there is a soccer game on that day. So, here are some tips for you to know about from smallest to biggest soccer teams based in Istanbul and to enjoy this soccer game spirit at its highest level.

It’s highly known that Istanbul is one of the most popular, well-known and metropolitan cities in Turkey. Being a big city brings along different types of options. In other words, if you want to support a Turkish soccer team located in Istanbul, today’s your lucky day because Istanbul offers you one of the best options.



How Many Soccer Teams Are There in Istanbul?

 Here are top 10 Turkish soccer teams based in Istanbul: 

  1. Fenerbahce Football Club
  2. Galatasaray Football Club
  3. Besiktas JK (Gymnastics Club)
  4. Basaksehir Football Club
  5. Eyupspor Football Club
  6. Modafen Football Club
  7. Tuzlaspor Football Club
  8. Bayrampasa Football Club
  9. Maltepe Football Club
  10. Catalcaspor Football Club

What is The Big Three?

    In Turkey, there are many different soccer teams based in Istanbul but 3 of them are accepted as the main ones. These teams can be listed as:

  1.  Fenerbahce, 
  2. Galatasaray, 
  3. Besiktas. 

As they’re accepted as the main teams, don’t feel surprised if you hear someone calling them the Big Three. The reason behind the title given to these teams is actually predictable. They’re all successful teams without a doubt but there are more reasons. 



    These teams are often regarded as the best teams of the league and as they’re all good teams with thousands of fans, these teams have always been seen as rivals. It’s not only the total fan numbers of the teams but also their championships and achievements that make them popular. Till now, there have been 61 championships that were won and 54 of them belong to these teams.

    Apart from these three teams, only 2 teams have won the championship. Those teams are:

  1. Trabzonspor
  2. Bursaspor

After Besiktas Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, Trabzonspor is regarded as one of the most successful teams in Turkey. The team has won 6 championships so far. On the other hand, Bursaspor comes right after Trabzonspor. The team has won one championship in the 2009-10 season. Although sometimes you might hear such words as “The Big Five” thanks to the championships won by Trabzonspor and Bursaspor, The Big Three will always be more valid and popular.

Besiktas Gymnastics Club
    Among the Big Three, Besiktas was founded firstly. It was founded on 4 March 1903. It’d be a mistake to call Besiktas as a football club because when it was first founded, it started as a gymnastics club. Later on, the club became famous for its soccer games.

How Was the Club Established?

  At the beginning of the 1900s, a group of people gathered together and started to meet regularly. The main aim of these gatherings was to exercise and they took place in a garden owned by a person named Osman. Later on, these people started to get interested in other branches such as gymnastics, parallel, wrestling, weightlifting. As a result, a club that they named after Bereket Gymnastics Club was founded in 1903. 

How Did the Club Become a Soccer Club?

    In a neighborhood named Ihlamur, Fuat Balkan had his own place and he turned this place into a sports center and the sports club that formerly known as Bereket Gymnastics Club was changed to Besiktas Ottoman Gymnastics Club.

Although football wasn’t in the spotlight in the first period when the club started its activities, athletes and gymnasts in the club became more interested in soccer and started playing games among themselves. They got their first championship in 1920. 

How Many Times Has Besiktas become the Champion?

    In total, Besiktas has become the champion 15 times so far. Here are the years and seasons that Besiktas showed a great example of success:

  1. 1956-57 season
  2. 1957-58 season
  3. 1959-60 season
  4. 1965-66 season
  5. 1966-67 season
  6. 1981-82 season
  7. 1985-86 season
  8. 1989-90 season
  9. 1990-91 season, 
  10. 1991-92 season, 
  11. 1994-95 season
  12. 2002-03 season
  13. 2008-09 season
  14. 2015-16 season
  15. 2016-17 season


Which Colors Represent Besiktas?

At first, the official colors of the team were red and white. It is believed that the club was inspired by the Turkish flag while deciding on the colors. Later on, black and white became the official colors of the team after the loss of the Balkan War.

Galatasaray Football Club

    Galatasaray Football Club is a Turkish soccer club that performed achievements worldwide. This makes it one of the most successful teams in Turkey. The club was founded on 1 October 1905. Galatasaray Sports Club was founded by Ali Sami Yen and accompanied by his friends at Galatasaray High School. In the beginning, the name of the club was to be Gloria (Victory) or Audace (Courage), they later decided on the name of “Galata Palace” which exactly means Galata Saray in Turkish.

What Are the Achievements of the Club?

    Galatasaray is the team with the most championships in Turkish football history and it is the only football club located in Turkey that has 4 stars. The team became champion for the first time between 1961-1962 and won  23 games out of 38 and got 57 points totally. Galatasaray won its last championship in the 2018-2019 season.

In addition to these, the club is famous for its firsts. 

  1. The team scored the highest amount of goals in one season.
  2. It is the team that has become the champion by making a huge gap in terms of the score in the league.
  3. The top athlete of the league; Metin Oktay who was playing for Galatasaray became the number one football player.
  4. Galatasaray is the first Turkish team that had the chance to represent Turkey in the Champions League. (1993)
  5. Galatasaray had the chance to play in the Champions League 14 times and no other Turkish teams managed to get a chance to play more.
  6. The first Turkish team that has won a cup in Europe. (in 2000)
  7. The first Turkish team to play quarter-finals in the Champions League. (3 times)
  8. The first and only Turkish team to represent the European continent at the World Clubs Championship.

How Many Times Has Galatasaray become the Champion?

    In total, Galatasaray has become the champion 22 times so far. By becoming the team with the most championship, Galatasaray has become more popular and the great achievement of the team was accepted and appreciated by Turkish people regardless of the team they support. So, here are the years and seasons that Galatasaray made its path to success: 

  1. 1961-62 season
  2. 1962-63 season
  3. 1968-69 season
  4. 1970-71 season
  5. 1971-72 season
  6. 1972-73 season
  7. 1986-87 season
  8. 1987-88 season
  9. 1992-93 season
  10. 1993-94 season
  11. 1996-97 season
  12. 1997-98 season
  13. 1998-99 season
  14. 1999-00 season
  15. 2001-02 season
  16. 2005-06 season
  17. 2007-08 season
  18. 2011-12 season
  19. 2012-13 season
  20. 2014-15 season
  21. 2017-18 season
  22. 2018-19 season


 Who Is the Most Famous Coach of Galatasaray?

    For both Turkish people and Galatasaray fans, Fatih Terim might even come to the minds even before the founder of the club. In 1953, he was born in Adana, Turkey. In 1969, he first played for Adana Demirspor, a local soccer team located in his hometown, Adana. This was when he was only 16 years old. Later on, he took an active part in Galatasaray as a football player before becoming the coach. He was trained in coaching too. Besides Galatasaray, he was in charge of the Turkish National Soccer Team for a long time. He’s Turkey’s one of the most well-known and successful coaches.

Which Colors Represent Galatasaray?

At first, Galatasaray started with red and white. As the colors of the Turkish flag are made of red and white, it is predicted that the team was inspired by the colors of the Turkish flag. Later on, as it was a period of chaos and political issues, the club wanted to change the colors to yellow and blue but in the end, they decided to make them yellow and red. Currently, the team is associated with the colors of yellow and red.

Fenerbahce Football Club

    Founded on 3 May 1907, Fenerbahce is just another successful soccer team in Turkish football history. There is an interesting fact that the first attempt to establish the club was done by the same people who also started a club under the name of the Black Stocking Football Club. Therefore, the Fenerbahce Football Club was unofficially established in 1899, however, as it was shut down twice, the official year of establishment is accepted as 1907. 

How Many Times Has Fenerbahce become the Champion?

    In total, Fenerbahce has 19 championships so far. Coming right after Galatasaray in terms of the number of championships, Fenerbahce is regarded as one of the most successful soccer teams in Turkey. Here are the years and the seasons: 

  1. 1958-59 season 
  2. 1960-61 season 
  3. 1963-64 season 
  4. 1964-65 season 
  5. 1967-68 season
  6. 1969-70 season 
  7. 1973-74 season 
  8. 1974-75 season 
  9. 1977-78 season
  10. 1982-83 season 
  11. 1984-85 season 
  12. 1988-89 season 
  13. 1995-96 season 
  14. 2000-01 season 
  15. 2003-04 season 
  16. 2004-05 season 
  17. 2006-07 season 
  18. 2010-11 season 
  19. 2013-14 season

Which Colors Represent Fenerbahce?

Naturally, in the springtime flowers bloom and make nature more colorful. As Fenerbahce was founded in May, it was springtime. It is said that the garden that belonged to Fenerbahce at that time was full of yellow and white daisies and Fenerbahce takes its colors from these daisies.



What are the Symbols of The Big Three?

    Using animals as a symbol that represents a soccer, basketball or baseball team is a tradition that widely accepted. The same tradition is observed in Turkish football teams as well. Each team is associated with a different animal and has a different meaning that it represents. If it’s still a secret for you, keep reading!

Lion for Galatasaray

The symbol of Galatasaray is a lion. If you wonder the reason behind, you can link it with the team’s famous athlete whose name is Nihat Bekdik. Later, The player was selected as the captain of the team. In 1936, he put an end to his career by stopping playing soccer but he never stopped being interested in sports. Bedik, who participated in the races with his boat which he named “Aslan”. Aslan means lion in Turkish and thanks to his boat, he was called “Aslan (Lion) Nihat” during this period and since then Galatasaray has been associated with a lion.

Black Eagle for Besiktas

The reason that the symbol of Besiktas is a black eagle is the cheer of a fan. In the 1940-41 season, Besiktas was the leader of the league and their team spirit was highly appreciated by the fans. As a result, during a game, one of the fans started shouting like “Go, Black Eagles!” and later on, Besiktas performed even better in that game and the press thought that the team was inspired by how passionately the fan was cheering. As a result, the black eagle became the symbol of the team.

Canary for Fenerbahce

The creation progress of the symbol of Fenerbahce mostly relies on one of its famous goalkeepers, Cihat Arman.  During that period, Turkey’s best goalkeeper was Cihan Arman and he was called “flying canary”. Thanks to his great talent, the press started to call the team as yellow canary after they won a game. For that reason, the canary becomes the symbol of the team.

Where Can I Watch Soccer in Istanbul?

If you’re looking for the best place to watch a soccer game and if you’re in Istanbul, you just can’t leave without watching a game at the glorious stadiums of the Big Three. If you wonder about the locations of these stadiums, you don’t need to wonder anymore.

  1. Ulker Sukru Saracoglu Stadium

Although its official name is Sukru Saracoglu Stadium, it’s widely known as Kadikoy in Turkey. It’s predictable that the popular and commonly known name of the stadium comes from a place that the stadium is located. Sukru Saracoglu Stadium is located in a neighborhood named Kadikoy. However, the official name comes from Sukru Saracoğlu, who was the official owner of the and had a duty as a president in 1934 and 1950.

This big stadium is big enough to host 50,509 football lovers at once. It’s the 4th largest stadium in Turkey. Authorities of the club made changes with the stadium many times. At last, the stadium was totally collapsed and a new stadium was rebuilt. The construction lasted for 7 years, starting in 1999 and ending in 2006. Finally, it got its current appearance. Kadikoy is highly important for both the club and the fans because Fenerbahce is hardly defeated in their own home. 

If you want to enjoy the feeling of rivalry, just get your tickets for a derby game at Sukru Saracoglu Stadium. The exact address of the stadium is written below if your choice is to watch a game at Kadıkoy.

Bağdat, Recep Peker Street Number: 2, 34724 Kadikoy/Istanbul



How to Get to Kadikoy?

  1. Take the metro bus from the nearest metro bus stop to you.
  2. Get off the metro bus at Sogutlucesme stop.
  3. After getting off the metro bus, you take a walk to Sukru Saracoglu Stadium. It will take 5 minutes approximately.

Turk Telekom Stadium

Formerly known as Ali Sami Yen Stadium, Turk Telekom Stadium witnessed the big games, big success and served as the home of Galatasaray from 1964 to 2010. Later on, the name was changed to Turk Telekom Stadium. The stadium takes its former name from the founder of the team, Ali Sami Yen. It was officially opened in 1964. After winning championships in a row, racing in the Champions League and gaining big success, Galatasaray started to look for a bigger and more modern stadium. With 52,223 capacity of the spectator, Turk Telekom Stadium is larger than Fenerbahce’s Kadiköy. The stadium was opened to its visitors and fans in 2011. Moreover, the stadium was opened with an opening game between Galatasaray and the famous football team, Ajax. Galatasaray played its first official game at Turk Telekom Stadium in January 2011, with Sivasspor. 

Watching a game at Turk Telekom Stadium will probably be one of the most unforgettable experiences in your life. Cheering beside cheerful and dedicated fans will make you feel like a true Galatasaray fan even if you’re there just to enjoy a night out. If you want to feel this spirit, here is the address information of the stadium: 

        Huzur Neighborhood, 34415 Seyrantepe Sariyer/Istanbul

How to Get to Turk Telekom Stadium?

  1. Take any metro bust hat goes to Mecidiyekoy station.
  2. Get off the metro bus at Mecidiyekoy station.
  3. Go on with Mecidiyekoy Metro Station. 
  4. When you arrive at Metro Sanayi Mahallesi stop, get off the metro. At this stop, reach Seyrantepe Metro. After taking a walk, you will be at the stadium.

Vodafone Park

Formerly known as the Inonu Stadium, Vodafone Park is the home for Besiktas. Former Inonu Stadium was opened in 1947. Just like Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, Besiktas also needed a new stadium with a bigger and larger capacity. As a result, Inonu Stadium was collapsed and Vodafone Park was built. It’s a fun fact that the neighborhood that the stadium is located is actually called Besiktas. Thanks to its great location, you can go and visit Vodafone Park even when it’s not a game day. The stadium is located next to the Bosphorus connecting the two continents. 



Apart from hosting football games, Vodafone Park is also the host of many different cultural and social events. These events include famous fashion shows by famous designers and concerts of worldwide famous singers. Shakira is one of those worldwide famous singers. She had an incredible concert at Vodafone Park. The concert took place in July 2018 and Istanbul witnessed an amazing night.  

The capacity of the stadium is enough to welcome 41,903 visitors. If you want to be one of them, here is the address of the stadium: 

Visnezade Neighborhood, Dolmabahce Street., 34357 Besiktas/Istanbul

How to Get to Vodafone Park?

  1. You can take a ferry departing from Kadikoy and after getting off, you can walk to the stadium. It will take 5 minutes.
  2. If you are coming from the European side you can take a walk to Vodafone Park and it will take your only 1 minute when you take the metro bus from any metro bus stop and get off at the Cevizlibag stop and take the Kabatas-Bagcilar tram.

How to Get a Live Game Ticket?

If you want to get a ticket for a game you need to visit https://www.passolig.com.tr in advance. The tickets are available for all teams including the Big Three. You need to sign up and fill the form beforehand. After signing up, you will have a card named Passolig.

What is Passolig?

Passolig is an electronic card application that fans who want to go to football games need to have. Games cannot be entered without passolig. Instead of wasting your time going and waiting in line, Passolig offers you an easier way in which you can buy your ticket online.

How Much You Need to Pay for the Tickets?

The prices might change according to the game that you want to watch. If it is between one of the teams of the Big Three and any other teams, the price will be much lower. It can show changes from 80 Turkish liras (12 dollars) to 100 Turkish liras (15 dollars). However, you might need to pay up to 500 Turkish liras (78 dollars) for a derby game which means it is a game between two of the Big Three.

Here is a small reminder for you: As they’re being the most famous teams in Turkey, they have hundreds of fans not only from Turkey but also from all over the world. For that reason, make sure that you get your tickets in advance If you want to watch a game at these famous stadiums. 



How Can You Watch a Game If I Can’t Buy Tickets?

If you can’t find tickets for the big games or when you don’t want to get in the big crowd, there are different options for you to watch the game. Here are some good places for you to do it: 

  1. Havelka (located in Caddebostan)
  2. Hard Rock Cafe Istanbul (located in Istiklal Street)
  3. Me Gusta (located in Taksim)
  4. Public House (located in Asmalimescit)
  5. Old English Pub (located in Kadikoy)

If your path crosses with Istanbul by any chance, you can go and watch a live game at these glorious stadiums and get to know better about these famous teams based in Istanbul. If you still can’t decide which team to support, we can advise you to watch live games of each team and make up your mind afterward. 

Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I love Istanbul. I have been to 10 different countries. Istanbul is in the top 3 cities. I like to play soccer too :)

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