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Giants of Turkish football embroiled in match-fixing scandal

April 30, 2012


The match-fixing probe, under which managers from major clubs will be in the dock, has rocked Turkish football to the core. – File photo by AP
A woman wears a mask of Aziz Yildirim, the chairman of Fenerbahce football club. The match-fixing probe, under which managers from major clubs will be in the dock, has rocked Turkish football to the core. – File photo by AP

ANKARA: Top sides Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Trabzonspor and Besiktas are among several teams set to appear before the country’s Professional Football Disciplinary Board (PFDK) over alleged match-fixing which has rocked Turkish football.

Turkish football federation (TFF) chief Yildirim Demiroren told a televised press conference on Monday that the PFDK would deliver its verdict within 48 hours after hearing all the defence statements.

“Football must be kept distant from any kind of speculation,” said Demiroren.

The TFF have also amended several articles of the football disciplinary law, to correct “disproportionate” penalties, Demiroren said.

One of those amended is Article 58, which had ruled that even attempts at match-fixing could result in a team being dropped from the league. The new version replaces that punishment with a 12-point deduction.

Demiroren downplayed the scandal which focuses on some 22 matches implying that results were not affected by the alleged fixing.

The PFDK’s internal process however is independent from an ongoing trial process involving nearly 100 Turkish club managers and players, including first division Fenerbahce boss Aziz Yildirim.

The investigation, which was launched in early 2011, led to a wave of arrests last summer after police became convinced that at least 19 first and second division matches were fixed during the 2010-1011 season.

Fenerbahce, the giant Istanbul club which won the 2011 Turkish League championship, has seen no fewer than 13 of its members charged, from its 59-year-old boss Yildirim to Brazilian-born player Gogcek Vederson, along with trainers, therapists and even the team’s Turkish-Portuguese interpreter.

Prosecutors are demanding jail terms of 147 years for Yildirim on corruption charges.

The unprecedented court case in Turkish football began in February, and another hearing of the trial continued on Monday at an Istanbul court as Yildirim stormed out of the courtroom in protest.

“The game is not yet over,” Yildirim said in a statement posted on the website of Fenerbahce club, ahead of the hearing.

The probe, under which managers from other clubs will also be in the dock including those from Besiktas and Trabzonspor, has rocked Turkish football to the core.

The TFF has banned Fernerbahce from the 2011-2012 Champions League, and Besiktas was forced to return the Turkish Cup it won last year.

But the president of the federation, Mehmet Ali Aydinlar, and his two deputies resigned in January after the federation failed to agree on further sanctions for the clubs involved. Aydinlar was replaced by Demiroren.

In a recent development, Turkey’s Fenerbahce dropped a case it filed against UEFA and TFF over their dismissal from this season’s Champions League.

But the club did not explain why it withdrew the case filed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

On Monday, Demiroren said his federation had nothing to do with Fenerbahce’s decision which he said was made by its own will.