Hall-of-Fame basketball coach Pat Riley once said, “There’s always the motivation of wanting to win. Everybody has that. But a champion needs, in his attitude, a motivation above and beyond winning.” Simple and powerful thought, of course, but I don’t think Riley slapping Magic Johnson in the face in order to get the Los Angeles Lakers motivated “beyond winning” was what he had in mind.
Face-slapping motivation is exactly what’s gotten Halit Kurt, the head coach of Turkish youth soccer team Kayseri Meysuspor, in serious trouble after video of him open-hand slapping kids went viral online.
According to TalkSport.com, Kurt is overheard shouting at this players, “I will kill you! What a disgrace!” All the while, he walks around the locker room cold-cocking a group of youth soccer players for trailing 3-1 at halftime of their match.
The video reportedly was taken during the 2016-17 season, but only recently came to light when it began circling social media for the first time in October 2019.
Soccer Coach Slaps Players
The hot-tempered coach addressed what he called “a parent-child relationship” that “should not become the property of the public” by comparing his actions to legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Not only do I use this method, it was widely used by previous generations. All of us know that Alex Ferguson slapped David Beckham.
“[Former Turkish national team manager] Fatih Terim is also said to beat players from time to time.”
— Halit Kurt, via The Sun
After the dressing room video emerged and the Turkish coach came under fire, he says angry supporters “cursed my dead mother” for which he is pursuing legal action.
While soccer isn’t a popular American sport like the NFL or UFC, it’s the closest thing to religion around the world. Everyone plays, and everyone pays attention. But in all my years of watching soccer from afar, I’ve never once seen face-slapping motivation be a legitimate technique for football coaches. Unless there’s some kind of underground club of slappers whacking kids in the face, there’s no way this is a serious thing that happens in soccer.
Halit Kurt has not been disciplined and is still the youth club’s manager at the time of publishing.