Football body clears clubs in fixing case
DHA PhotoThe Turkish Football Federation (TFF) yesterday cleared all 16 Turkish clubs, including Fenerbahçe, of involvement in an alleged match-fixing scandal, but it has banned players and club officials for manipulating and attempting to manipulate games.
Gaziantepspor midfielder İbrahim Akın, who was with Istanbul BB when accused, was banned for three years for manipulating a Fenerbahçe-Istanbul BB match, while former Gençlerbirliği goalkeeper Serdar Kulbilge was given a two-year ban for attempting to manipulate a Gençlerbirliği-Fenerbahçe match in last season’s Spor Toto Super League.
Two officials from defending champion Fenerbahçe, which was at the center of the allegations, were also banned. Fenerbahçe board member İlhan Ekşioğlu was given a three-year ban for attempting to manipulate the Eskişehirspor-Trabzonspor and Gençlerbirliği-Fenerbahçe games, and Vice Chairman Şekip Mosturoğlu and club official Cemil Turan were each given one-year bans.
No ban for Aziz Yıldırım
Ekşioğlu is still in jail pending charges, while Mosturoğlu and Turan spent seven months in jail before being released. The highest-profile suspect in the case, Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım, was not found guilty of match-fixing despite still being held in the Metris Prison on match-fixing charges. Yıldırım denied the charges against him and said the case was designed specifically to undermine the 18-time domestic champion club.
Former Eskişehirspor player Ümite Karan was given a two-year ban, while Gençlerbirliği staff members Cengiz Demirel and Mehmet Şen and player agent Yavuz Ağırgöl were also given one-year bans.
The outcome of the TFF’s investigation will be closely analyzed by European football’s ruling body, UEFA, amid previous expectations that clubs found to have been involved in match-fixing could face relegation or exclusion from European competitions. Ahead of the disciplinary board’s decision, the federation had softened the punishment for match-fixing, ruling that clubs caught unsuccessfully trying to fix matches would only face point deductions rather than relegation.
The scandal erupted last July, when police carried out raids against those accused of involvement in rigging 13 matches, including Fenerbahce’s 4-3 victory over Sivasspor that clinched them the league championship on the final day of last season. The indictment named eight clubs, including Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor. The TFF launched its own investigation, and 22 separate Super League games were referred to the disciplinary committee.
Additional reports from AFP and Reuters were used in this story.