Fenerbahçe’s title game overshadowed by political controversy
DHA PhotoFenerbahçe may clinch the Turkish title with a win over Beşiktaş over the weekend, but the focus is not on the championship, with the e-ticket controversy and Chairman Aziz Yıldırım’s prison sentence dominating the headlines.
The Yellow Canaries are all almost certain to clinch their 19th Spor Toto Super League title with just three points in the five remaining games, but they will be looking for the prospect of winning the league against an archrival, second-place Beşiktaş.
With 66 points after 29 match days, Fenerbahçe has a 12-point advantage over the Black Eagles, while Galatasaray follows from a 13-point deficit.
Fenerbahçe visits Beşiktaş at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium on April 20, but it is uncertain how much of an atmosphere it will find in the derby.
Beşiktaş football club’s most famous supporter group, çArşı, announced earlier this week that it will not be in the stadium for the derby in protest of a controversial new e-ticketing system that is designed to exert greater control over fans.
“It is the supporters that make derby games a derby. Against the absurdity of an away games ban, against the absurdity of this e-ticket garbage, we will not be at the derby,” the supporter group wrote on its Twitter account.
In response, Beşiktaş released a statement in a bid to lure its supporters.
“We call on our fans not to leave 11 Beşiktaş players alone,” the statement read. “This is the day for supporting Beşiktaş, for jumping over the barricades for the title.”
çArşı’s announcement is the latest supporter outcry against the electronic ticketing system, introduced by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) on April 14. Under the rules of the system, anyone who wants to buy tickets for a football match in the Spor Toto Super League and PTT League One will be first asked to buy a card dubbed “passolig,” tickets for games will in turn be bought with the card, which will include the identity information of the supporter on one side and his or her photograph on the other.
The new system is under fire not only for the extra costs it puts on football supporters, but also for concerns over private data. The company making the card will have access to the supporters’ national identity data, bank accounts and other private data, and will be able to share it with the police and the TFF.
Some 40 Turkish supporter groups issued a declaration on April 13 calling on football fans not to buy e-tickets and to boycott matches.
Fenerbahçe, on the other hand, will not start the new system this season, according to daily Hürriyet, and will accept the TFF ban of 100,000 Turkish Liras per home game.
Fenerbahçe’s main agenda toward the game is the prospect of Chairman Yıldırım set to go to prison to serve his match-fixing sentence.
Yıldırım, whose six-year, three-month sentence in the gripping Turkish football match-fixing case was approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals earlier this year, had appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeals Prosecutor’s Office for a “correction” of the decision. His appeal, however, was rejected, meaning that Yıldırım, arguably the most powerful man in Turkish football, will serve his sentence.
The conviction also means Yıldırım will no longer be eligible to continue as the president of Fenerbahçe, according to the code for football club administrations.
Yıldırım also faces at least two years in prison due to Turkey’s execution laws; he already spent one year in jail while under arrest July 3, 2011.
On April 18, Yıldırım met the Fenerbahçe team and encouraged them to go on and win the title against Beşiktaş.
He was found guilty of attempting to manipulate several games in the 2010-2011 seasons, when Fenerbahçe beat Trabzonspor to the title, as well as “forming an unarmed crime gang.”
In the only other game on April 20, Çaykur Rizespor hosts Torku Konyaspor.
On April 19, it is Gaziantepspor vs. Gençlerbirliği, Akhisar vs. Kayserispor, Galatasaray vs. Kasımpaşa and Bursaspor vs. Elazığspor.