Turkish football fans threw thousands of teddy bears and soft toys onto the field during a game on Sunday Feb. 26 to pay tribute to the children affected by the recent 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
Organized by fans of the Turkish Beşiktaş team, the event called “This toy is my friend”, happened during a match between Beşiktaş and Antalyaspor at Vodafone Park in Istanbul.
The goal of the event was to provide morale for the children affected by the devastating earthquake, which killed more than 50,000 people, according to the club.
The match was stopped at four minutes 17 seconds to represent the time of the earthquake, which happened at 4:17 am on Feb. 6.
“There are more important things than football. We are going through difficult times as a country. Together we will heal the wounds,” Beşiktaş defender, Tayyib Sanuç, said.
The team also warmed up wearing shirts with the names of the southern cities in Turkey that were affected.
It was followed by a pre-match ceremony when fans thanked the search and rescue teams for their efforts.
Videos of the match showed soft toys, big and small, raining down onto the field as football players watched and clapped.
Fans not only threw soft toys, but scarves and berets.
The items will be donated to children affected by the earthquake.
“We have started our preparations to send the plush toys thrown on the field during the Antalyaspor match to our children affected by the earthquake,” Beşiktaş wrote on Twitter following the event.
The game was also marked by anti-government chants.
After the earthquake, anti-government sentiment has grown more and more because the government’s response was deemed inadequate, with about 1.5 million left without basic needs, according to the BBC.
Turkish authorities said more than 44,000 people have died in Turkey alone due to the earthquake.