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Turkey’s first national soccer game in Kurdish heartland hints at electioneering

The match was set in Diyarbakir by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as he faces a tough vote next year.
ILYAS AKENGIN/AFP via Getty Images

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s national anthem rang out around a packed stadium on Wednesday evening as the Turkish men’s soccer team lined up for the first national match ever played in Diyarbakir, widely regarded as the unofficial “capital” of the country’s Kurdish region.

With a crowd of some 33,000 flag-waving supporters singing "Istiklal Marsi," the players stood under the lights of the Diyarbakir Stadium for a friendly game against Scotland.

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