ÇETİN CEM YILMAZ
The match-fixing scandal shaped the national sports agenda in 2011, and its aftershocks will likely continue to rock the next year.
After 93 high-profile sports figures were named suspects and eight teams were allegedly involved, the first hearing for the landmark match-fixing case is set for Feb. 14. There is little doubt that the case will continue to dominate the national sports agenda, since 23 club officials and coaches are still in jail pending trial. While their arrest is ongoing, the national federation’s decisions for the teams involved will continue to fire controversy as well.
The fact that Turkey is not promising much in top international events will also play a huge role in the dominant position of the case. Turkey will not play in the Euro 2012, the top football competition of the year, and its performance in the London Olympics looks dubious as well, especially in its two strongholds, wrestling and weightlifting. Turkey has lagged far behind the likes of Russia, Iran, Japan and Kazakhstan in the latest World Wrestling Championships, and a possible doping ban on its hottest prospect, Nurcan Taylan, may doom its chances in the latter.
However, it is not all doom and gloom for Turkey. The country will host the World Indoor Athletics Championships March 9 to 11. The build-up to the events has been marred by organizational problems, but if all goes well the games will give fans a chance to see sports’ top names in Istanbul.