Government worried over UEFA measures against Turkey
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Resignations of TFF Chairman Mehmet Ali Aydınlar (R) along with vice chairmen Gümüşdağ (L) and Arıboğan add to the crisis-laden agenda of national football. AA photoThe government is concerned UEFA could slap sanctions on Turkish teams if the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) fails to take a decision on the ongoing match-fixing probe, a senior government official has said.
“UEFA expects the TFF to resolve this problem on its own in due course. It will only step in if the TFF don’t deal with this problem internally,” the official said late on Jan. 31, after Mehmet Ali Aydınlar, head of the TFF, resigned.
Aydınlar and his two deputies Lütfü Arıboğan and Göksel Gümüşdağ resigned from their posts Jan. 31 as a result of the months-long match-fixing crisis in which eight Super League teams, including Fenerbahçe, Trabzonspor and Beşiktaş, are listed as suspects and risk being penalized with relegation to the second division.
However, the TFF could not take disciplinary action against the teams due to growing pressure from the football community, leaving Turkish football in its entirety vulnerable to potential sanctions by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
“UEFA would likely step in as a last resort. The TFF is an autonomous body and has its own regulations. Both the government and UEFA will respect the decisions it would take. But for UEFA, the timing and scope of the disciplinary action is also important,” the official said.
There are concerns UEFA may ban Turkish teams from participating in Champions League and Europa League fixtures for several years.
Gov’t to stay away from discussions
Affecting millions of fans, the crisis within Turkish football is a matter of public and media discussion and some politicians have also become involved in the debate. However, the government official strongly underlined that the ruling party government would not become involved in the process given the fact that the TFF is an autonomous body and the issue is “very sensitive.”
“If we advise them to take their measures before the league ends, then those unhappy with these decisions will publicly try to blame the government,” the official said.
“From the very early days of this crisis, we have set two basic principles: The first requires [the government to not interfere] on this issue. We have never been involved in daily discussions. The second is to play as a facilitator in the event that the TFF and teams lose the ground to communicate with each other,” the official added.
The only contradiction to these principles occurred when Environment and City Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar said last year’s championship cup should be taken from Fenerbahçe and given to Trabzonspor. However, his statements were speedily corrected by the government, denying it had any such plan.
The official also denied reports Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked Aydınlar not to resign from his post.
‘Problem should’ve been resolved last year’
For the government, the main mistake committed in this process was the TFF’s inability to take actions with determination before the league started last September, the official said.
“All teams had zero points and were set to start the race under equal conditions. The only measure they have taken was to leave Fenerbahçe out of the Champions League. If they were courageous and took other relevant measures at that time, all the teams and Turkish football as a whole would have a much clearer vision for their future,” the official said.
“The situation has become a mess now. It will be extremely hard for the new TFF administration to take actions only days before the play-offs begin.”