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Preseason match recap: Bursaspor v Leeds United

If no one sees a match, did it really happen?

Bursaspor v Besiktas - Super League Photo by Mustafa Ozer/EuroFootball/Getty Images

So if a match takes place and no one sees it, did it really happen?

Leeds United played a “training game” against Turkish Super Lig side Bursaspor yesterday. Leeds dropped the result 3-0 with some questionable defending and some decent attacking play with poor finishing.

At least, that’s what we could tell. The match was allegedly going to be broadcast on Bursaspor’s Youtube channel and on BSTV, but after only a few minutes, the feed was cut off.

Apparently the bosses at UEFA took a break from counting money to decide that a barely attended preseason match between an English second division club and a Turkey Super Lig team that isn’t Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş or Galatasaray needed to have permits to broadcast via a streaming service that barely anyone outside of Turkey knew existed before Sunday. Not content to simply make rules and then find a way to ignore them or make them toothless, UEFA had to make sure that a last-minute friendly match that was hastily arranged after the hosts for Sunday’s cancelled friendly pulled the plug because of “safety” concerns was seen by as few people as possible.

So while fans scrambled to see what was going on, and why they couldn’t see the match that was going on, the plug was pulled only a few minutes into the match. Leeds had already conceded when the feed shut off. One of the few fans that was able to be at the match resorted to streaming the match via his phone on periscope, but he was shut down at least once after someone noticed that he was broadcasting or recording the match on his phone and threatened to call the police on the Turkish man.

Oh, and it looked like there were fans from both clubs at the match. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and the only “trouble” seemed to be when someone decided to be the streaming police and shut down a guy who was trying to bring football to the masses.

It’s almost as if UEFA decided to make a boneheaded decision to bring Leeds United and Bursaspor fans together in hatred of the common enemy, themselves. But that’s giving them too much credit. And yeah, maybe the teams didn’t have the rights to stream a friendly over the internet to their fans, but I think that in this case, UEFA could have ignored the letter of the law and allowed fans to see the game that everyone otherwise would have no chance of seeing. It’s not as if the broadcast would have hurt paid attendance or undermined any existing television deals. It was simply a last minute friendly scheduled on a few days notice. But Leeds fans can’t have nice things.

So a game was played, and almost no one got to watch it. Of course, it looks like Leeds fans wouldn’t have really gotten a lot of joy out of the match, but it still would have been nice to see the new players.

The team apparently arranged the friendly to be a “training” match without any advertisement, but Bursaspor apparently wasn’t on the same page and announced it via social media Sunday, leading to the mass confusion as UEFA pulled the plug.

The biggest takeaway from the match is that the defense is still a work in progress. The parts that I saw on periscope saw Leeds dominate possession at the start of the second half with nothing to show for it as attacks died in the final third and the lack of finishing that plagued the team against North Ferriby reared its ugly head again. There was some dispute on Twitter as to who was at fault for the first goal, as it seemed that Marco Silvestri was out of position on the play, but since the Bursaspor player got a free header, there are plenty of fingers to be pointed all around.

So here’s hoping that the preseason match against Borussia Mönchengladbach goes better for the team. And yes, while it’s nice that Leeds beat some National League teams in Yorkshire, it is important to remember that preseason games mean absolutely nothing.