Turkish football clubs reject amendment on relegation clause
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Football Federation (TFF) chief Mehmet Ali Aydınlar (R), secretary-general Lütfi Arıboğan (C) and vice chairman Göksel Gümüşdağ are seen during yesterday’s convention in Ankara. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZA proposal to impose a points deduction instead of forcibly relegating football teams found guilty of match fixing was refused at a landmark Turkish Football Federation (TFF) convention in Ankara today.
The convention was held with the participation of 280 delegates from football clubs who ultimately voted to continue with the current penalties for rigging.
According to the proposal announced last week by the Union of Clubs, comprised of the chairmen of the 18 Spor Toto Super League teams, “teams found guilty of match fixing will be hit with a points deduction starting at 12 points, those who are involved in such action will be hit with fines and the clubs who are found guilty will be barred from UEFA competitions.”
The 58th article of the TFF Disciplinary Code mandates that any team found guilty of manipulating or attempting to manipulate football matches be relegated.
A total of 93 football officials, players and coaches are listed as suspects in a large match-fixing case in which eight teams risk being relegated from the top flight.
A strong majority of the representatives united in favor of keeping the 58th article as the definitive measure against match fixing, but the convention was still dominated by tension and debates.
However, as the delegates took to the stage to talk, there was stern criticism toward the TFF.
“We want nothing but a fair judgment,” Fenerbahçe Vice Chairman Nihat Özdemir said. “We don’t want our board members to face the judges without a right to defend themselves due to a Turkish Football Federation decision.”
While the TFF investigation continues, the judicial process into the match-fixing case is ongoing as well. Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım and three other club members are jailed pending trial as part of the case, while a total of 23 sport officials and coaches are also under arrest.
TFF Chairman Mehmet Ali Aydınlar responded to the criticism. “I am not the disciplinary committee or the arbitrary committee,” Aydınlar said. “I can’t pressure anyone. General conventions are not held for creating chaos. It is about meeting to make decisions in a democratic environment.”
However, today's convention signaled that Aydınlar’s spell may come to an end soon with Beşiktaş Chairman and Union of Clubs head Yıldırım Demirören, Aydınlar’s closest ally, calling for new elections. “We can retract our proposal and call for the TFF chairman to seek a vote of confidence,” Demirören said right before the vote. “Let’s make a decision for a new election. Let this fight end.”
Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor, the other three members of Turkey’s elite “big four,” have already been lobbying against the changing of the 58th article.
Today’s staunchest critic, however, was Ömer Hızlıok, the chairman of third-tier club Altay.
“I congratulate the top four clubs, they showed that no one else mattered but them,” he said before his speech was interrupted.