Samuel Eto'o's charity match, scheduled for today (Saturday) in Antalya, Turkey, has been canceled, according to unconfirmed reports. Players and staff who have already arrived are safe, at least according to Fabio Capello, who managed to get a word out to reporters.
"...the news has reached us in Antalya, there's a bit of anxiety, but here all is quiet."
-Fabio Capello; source: Calcio Web via Google Translate
The charity match was going to be a grand occasion. Stars and legends from all around the world were answering the former Barcelona, Inter, and Chelsea striker's call to help raise money for his foundation, including such illustrious names as Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, and Eden Hazard. Recently retired legends were set to play as well, such as Marcel Desailly and Jay-Jay Okocha.
Eden Hazard arriving in Turkey for Samuel Eto'o charity match pic.twitter.com/7DY1i4Trae— Hazard Stuff (@HazardStuff) July 15, 2016
Despite a few late cancellations, such as Jose Mourinho who withdrew just the day before, many had already flown in to Antalya, or were about to start traveling when at least part of the Turkish military staged a coup and threw the country into utter chaos. It's still not clear as of this moment who's in charge, if anyone.
It's also not clear whether the match will go ahead today (Saturday). Common sense would dictate that it will not, and the emphasis will shift to making sure everyone who had already arrived returns home safely.
The coup was (is?) centered around the capital Ankara and the biggest city Istanbul, but the effects were felt countrywide. At one point on Friday night, reports from Turkey indicated that all airports had been closed and flights canceled. Both the Foreign Office (UK) and the US State Department were advising their people to "shelter in place" and stay indoors.
Hopefully, once the situation stabilizes a bit, normal service will resume as far as transportation's concerned. Carles Puyol has apparently told newspapers back in Catalonia that they're actively working on figuring this out.
Official announcement pic.twitter.com/snFyiWLmH8— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) July 15, 2016
Chelsea have yet to release any similar statement to Barcelona updating their fans on the whereabouts and statuses of Messi, Iniesta, Turan, and others involved, but Hazard did pop up at a pre-match function after his arrival in the country was confirmed earlier on Friday.
Unconfirmed reports in both England (Mirror) and Spain (Mundo Deportivo) claim that the match has been canceled. There's been no official word from the match organizers yet, though social media did apparently get blocked country-wide at least temporarily and traditional media channels (both state-run and private) were being seen as critical targets in the fight between the two sides.
Turquía 1.- Partido benéfico de Eto'o, cancelado. Messi, que iba a ir mañana a jugarlo, no saldrá de Ibiza.— Miguel Rico (@MigRico) July 15, 2016
Stay safe, everyone.