The manager of Turkish basketball team Galatasaray Liv Hospital expressed his sadness over the killing of Serbian fan Marko Ivkovic before a basketball game on Friday night in Istanbul.

Basketball fan Marko Ivkovic, 25, was stabbed in the chest outside Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul where he had gone to support his team Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade, or the Red Star Belgrade, in a Turkish Airlines Euroleague match against the Turkish team Galatasaray Liv Hospital on Friday evening. 

Ivkovic succumbed to his wounds on early Saturday morning.

Before the game, the manager of the Turkish side, Ergin Ataman, talked to CNN Turk and said: "A 25-year-old youngster comes to Turkey and gets killed. We are very sorry about this. Turkish police will find the perpetrator."

Stating that he witnessed the unrest outside while he was arriving to the court, Ataman added, "It was a riot. I barely entered the parking lot. I saw that two police officers were wounded and drenched in blood. I was demoralized at the time and when I got into the court, I learned that a group was kicking up a fuss."

In a press conference after the match, he emphasized that he would "call them terrorists."

Ataman stated that he used this expression without being aware of the killing of a Serbian fan.  

"After the match I headed directly to the press conference. I did not know that the unrest had caused such deep trouble. I was told that the group had been disbanded. As I said before, I am against hooliganism, fascism and terrorism in sports and the game was terrorized substantially. As a result, Turkish police officers and Galatasaray fans were attacked. I stated before that precautions must be taken and that the Euroleague should take action," he continued.

"When I was making my statements, I did not know that a youngster had been killed. If I had known, I could have offered my condolences before my speech. It is an unfortunate development which has drawn me into an incident which has nothing to do with sports. I am against any kind of terrorism in sports and I condemn the Serbian consul general's remarks about me," the Galatasaray Liv Hospital manager added.

Ataman was referring to the Serbian consul general calling him a terrorist.

"The incident has reached political dimensions. There has been an unfortunate killing. Meanwhile, the Serbian President pointed at me as a target by saying 'Ergin Ataman will not enter Serbia anymore,' I request that this statement be reversed as soon as possible," he continued.

Zoran Markovic, Serbia's consul general in Istanbul, said that Ataman's statements during press conference were unacceptable.

"The coach's remarks are the worst ones that I have ever seen. It is not acceptable to make statements after a 'friendly' match like that. Problems with regards to the match's organization caused this. We had suggested the necessary precautions but no one listened to us," he said.

Emphasizing that eye witnesses confirmed the incident, the Serbian consul general continued by saying, "Turkish police forces and the Galatasaray board were informed and we (the Serbian consulate) were all prepared for all scenarios."

He added that they knew that no-extra tickets were given to Serbian fans and that they found this unacceptable.

Galatasaray's basketball branch coordinator, Murat Ozyer, also expressed his sadness about the death of the Serbian fan before the match.

Talking to an AA correspondent, Ozyer said, "I wish there would not have been an incident like this. As a result, a 25-year-old fan lost his life. According to information gathered by the police, the death occurred due to unrest between the Serbian fans. The perpetrators who killed the fan will be identified after the investigation ends."

"Four and a half hours before the match, Crvena Zvezda informed us that a group of 200-250 fans arrived in Istanbul and the club requested extra tickets for them. They also stated that they refused any responsibility for this group. Then we discussed it with the police and the Serbian consulate. We (the Galatasaray board) said that the security plan was not going to change and that we could not lend any assistance," he said.

On Saturday, Ozyer added that Euroleague officials requested Galatasaray Liv Hospital and the Turkish Basketball Federation send a report to them about the incident.

The two parties duly obliged and sent the report on the same day.

The Turkish Basketball Federation published a condolence message for the deceased Serbian fan on Saturday, saying that the Federation was deeply sorry about Ivkovic's death.

Anadolu Agency