ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey has come up with a radical solution for tackling crowd violence at football matches — ban the men and let only women and children in.
Under new rules approved by Turkey's football association, only women and children under the age of 12 will be admitted to watch games — for free — involving teams which have been sanctioned for unruly behaviour by their fans.
On Tuesday, women formed long lines around Fenerbahce's Sukru Saracoglu stadium, some carrying babies in the team's colours, for an opportunity to watch their club for free.
More than 41,000 women and children filled the stadium to watch the Istanbul side draw 1-1 with Manisaspor, the club announced.
Canadians Josh Simpson and Mike Klukowski started for Manisaspor, Simpson assisting on the tying goal by Fabio Bilica with a back-heel flick from the top of the 18-yard box.
Fenerbahce was ordered to play two home matches without any spectators after its fans invaded the pitch during a friendly against Ukrainian champion Shakhtar Donetsk.
The federation changed its rules this week to allow women and children in.
Tuesday's game kicked off with Fenerbahce and Manisaspor players hurling flowers at the spectators. The visiting team was greeted with applause, instead of the usual jeering, the Anatolia news agency reported.
Fenerbahce captain Alex de Sousa said: "This memory will stay with me forever. It's not always that you see so many women and children in one game."
Manisaspor midfielder Omer Aysan said: "It was such a fun and pleasant atmosphere."
The fans were searched by all-women police officers.
"This really is a historic day," said Yasemin Mercil, a female member of Fenerbahce's executive board. "For the first time in the world, only women and children will watch a game."
"The women know all the chants. The same anthems, the same chants will be sung," Mercil said before the game.
Fenerbahce was sanctioned by the association in July following trouble by fans who also attacked journalists for what they regarded as critical coverage of a match-fixing probe that involves the league champion.
Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim is among 30 suspects detained in the case and the club faces the threat of being stripped of its title and possible relegation. It also lost its chance to play in this season's Champions League.
Women showed their support to Yildirim, with some wearing T-shirts emblazoned with his photograph.
"We have to thank the ladies for coming to support us," Fenerbahce defender Joseph Yobo told Lig TV. "It's difficult playing without the fans."