Fener boss Yıldırım vows to shock Turkey in his defense

Fener boss Yıldırım vows to shock Turkey in his defense

ISTANBUL
Fener boss Yıldırım vows to shock Turkey in his defense

Fenerbahçe fans have turned the Silivri Courthouse, where the club’s chairman Aziz Yıldırım is being tried as part of the match-fixing case, into a stadium-like atmosphere with banners. Yıldırım says he will shock the nation with his defense next week, when the hearings will be held in Çağlayan, central Istanbul. DAILY NEWS photos, Emrah GÜREL

Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım said he would “shock Turkey” when he begins his defense in the match-fixing hearings next week.

Yıldırım, who is the highest-profile name among the 93 football officials, coaches and players listed as suspects in the case, said he expected to start his defense on Feb. 21.

“I am not charged with match fixing, I am charged with getting economic income in an unfair way,” Yıldırım said to reporters during a short break at the Silivri courthouse, where the hearings started with the 400-page indictment. “That is not match fixing.”

‘This is not about match-fixing’

“This case is not about match fixing,” Yıldırım claimed. “If it was, they would investigate other people, too.”

Several Fenerbahçe fans have been claiming the case was a plot to dethrone Yıldırım, arguably the most powerful man in Turkish football. When asked if there was a “political motivation” behind the case, Yıldırım simply answered, “I don’t know. Investigate it a little.”

“Can it be about your businessman profile?” asked a reporter, implying another conspiracy theory, which claims the case was aimed to force Yıldırım to fall out of favor.

Yıldırım, who has been jailed pending trial since early July last year, also said he would defend himself with video excerpts from Spor Toto Super League matches from last season, when Fenerbahçe finished as the champions.

Trabzonspor, which finished as runner-up only on an inferior head-to-head record, was also favored by Fenerbahçe’s fierce rivals, Beşiktaş and Galatasaray, Yıldırım claimed.

“Thirty thousand people [Beşiktaş and Galatasaray fans] chanted for Trabzonspor to win last year,” Yıldırım said. “Why are those games not investigated?”

Trabzonspor also has Chairman Sadri Şener and board member Nevzat Şakar listed as suspects in the case, but they are not under arrest.

Earlier this week, Yıldırım said “They say match fixing. What match fixing? The country is getting out of hand, but all they talk about is match fixing.”

He echoed his earlier statements, saying “the country needs unity” and urging Fenerbahçe and Sivasspor fans to watch this weekend’s game together, waving flags.

Sivasspor Chairman Mecnun Odyakmaz is among the names jailed pending trial.

The two teams were the parties of a controversial game played on the last day of the season. Fenerbahçe won 4-3 to claim its 18th league title.

Sivasspor goalkeeper Korcan Çelikay, who conceded a controversial goal in the game, was jailed pending trial for five months but was released pending charges.

Olgun Peker, listed as the No. 1 suspect in the indictment, also said he would make a surprising defense.

“Watch my defense very carefully. There are many things you don’t know,” the alleged gang leader of the “crime organization” listed in the indictment said.

“I will declare all.”

Fenerbahçe, rigging, match