It is around 4:30 am in Taksim Square and the mosque next door begins to broadcast the Islamic sunrise prayer over the loudspeakers. A few streets down, Manchester City fans are still celebrating their first Champions League title, to the sound of old hits like “La Bamba”.
The title party literally lasted until dawn in the bars near one of Istanbul’s main squares. Taksim is often the setting for celebrations. A week ago, Galatasaray fans celebrated winning the national championship there. In the past decade, the site was the scene of the so-called Arab Spring protests.
However, it is worth mentioning that the game ended around midnight local time (6 pm in Brasilia), less than five hours before daylight at this time of year in Turkey.
Shortly after the end of the game, fans who saw the match at a “fan fest” set up in the central area rushed to take the subway, but continued to celebrate in stations and trains, singing City songs.
By 1am, there were still few fans at Taksim. A giant replica of the Champions Cup was placed there. At that moment, there seemed to be more onlookers and police waiting for the fans than people in light blue City shirts. Meanwhile, some groups celebrated the title, lighting flares and singing, which attracted the attention of the cameras.
The fans who were at the stadium took a long time to arrive, because the arena was far: about 17 km from the central area of Istanbul. On the way there, there was a lot of traffic, with scenes of fans walking on the road to try to arrive in time.
“We took the subway and had no problems. But there were people who took the bus and stayed there for two hours, without moving,” says Martin Duddrige, who came from Halifax, England, to support City, along with friends. “I liked the city so much that I want to bring my wife next time.”
Duddrige arrived at one of the bars near Taksim around 2:00 am, bringing some of the flags that were distributed at the stadium. Some of them later ended up being used as covers throughout the night.
In the bars, while the English laughed, drank shots of tequila and hugged, the fans of Inter Milan, who lost the match, drank without wanting to talk too much. Some, with a serious and sad face, seemed to try to understand the 1-0 defeat, in a goal conceded in the second half. Most ended up leaving in a short time.
The City fans party continued without time to end. There were many white-haired fans there, who seemed to get emotional listening to songs by British artists, such as “Wonderwall”, by Oasis, and “Hey Jude”, by Paul McCartney, which became “Hey City” in the chorus of the small crowd that celebrated in the street.
Street vendors sold scarves, shirts and flags, on a bargain basis. After minutes of negative feedback, a flare that initially cost eight euros could go for two euros (about R$ 10).
Istanbul nightlife, however, has its risks. At one point, a young man started talking to a stranger who was next to him. It looked like a flirtation, but with a quick gesture he took the cell phone out of the other’s pocket. Seconds later, when missing, the victim went after him and recovered the device.