ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
A court convicts Turkey’s favorite sport over rigging
attempts that have sullied the beautiful game but allows the key figures in the case to walk free
Cheering fans of Fenerbahçe football club greets their newly freed chair Aziz Yıldırım after he spent a year in jail for rigging. AA photo
Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım
and dozens of high-profile names were convicted and sentenced to prison on match-fixing charges as the landmark football corruption case verdict was announced yesterday.
Yıldırım was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison on match-fixing charges, while fellow board members İlhan Ekşioğlu, Şekip Mosturoğlu, Tamer Yelkovan and Cemil Turan were also found guilty of manipulating several games from the 2010-2011 Turkish championship.
The court also convicted several officials from Beşiktaş, Eskişehirspor, Sivasspor, Giresunspor and Diyarbakırspor. All officials from Trabzonspor, who lost the 2010-2011 Spor Toto Super League title to Fenerbahçe
on goal difference, were cleared of match-fixing attempt charges. One year after
The court ruling came one year after police detained suspects and prosecutors eventually charged 93 individuals, including Yıldırım. Fenerbahçe
was barred from last season’s Champions League as a result of the investigation. UEFA
said last week that Fenerbahçe
was eligible to participate in next season’s competition, pending a final decision by the UEFA
However, the court released Yıldırım, Ekşioğlu, player agent Yusuf Turanlı and former Giresunspor chairman Olgun Peker, listed as the number one suspect in the indictment, after considering the time they have already spent in jail over the past year.
Despite the court ruling, Fenerbahçe
fans have welcome the release of Yıldırım, arguably the most powerful man in Turkish football, from jail. Thousands of fans flocked to the Metris Prison yesterday after the verdict was announced midday to give Yıldırım a heroes’ welcome. He was sitting in an open-top car saluting the crowd and trying to greet anyone that thrust out their hands.
During yesterday’s final hearing, head judge Mehmet Ekinci asked the defendants for their final words before the verdict.
“Today we are being tried, but you are also being tried in front of history. I trust the Turkish judges and prosecutors. I hope you have made the right decision,” Yıldırım said before ending with a Fener slogan. “That I said on the first day and I will say on the last day: ‘Even standing at the gallows, our final word will be ‘Fenerbahçe.’”
Ekinci responded to Yıldırım saying “Like football referees, we call what we see. We close our ears to what the stands say.”
The court ruling meant Yıldırım can no longer serve as a club official according to the code for football club administrations but the sanction require approval by the appeals court to go into effect.
Fenerbahçe officials’ lawyers announced that they will immediately appeal the decision. Yesterday’s ruling came two months after the Turkish Football Federation
cleared all 16 teams of involvement in the scandal on grounds that even though there were match-fixing attempts, they were “not reflected on the pitch.” However, the Federation had banned 10 players and club officials for manipulating and attempting to manipulate games.
Yıldırım stronger after jail
Çetin Cem Yılmaz – Analysis
He might have been convicted of match-fixing, but yesterday’s scenes proved that Aziz Yıldırım
is a more powerful figure amongst Fenerbahçe
fans after having spent a year in jail.
The Fener chairman was sentenced to six years in prison, but was released from Metris Prison based on time served.
When head judge announced that Yıldırım would be released, the atmosphere in the courtroom was akin to a stadium just after a team has scored a dramatic goal. A few minutes later, Ekinci announced that Yıldırım had been convicted, but even the fact that the chairman could enter the prison again if his appeal is rejected could not put Fenerbahçe
fans – both inside and outside the courtroom - off.
Fenerbahçe fans, just like Yıldırım, believed all along that the case was an attempt to dethrone the president and take over the club chair. They have staged many protests and confronted the police, which was highly rare for Turkish football fans, and waited for the end of the case. There is a good chance that Yıldırım, now a convicted man, might go to jail again. But yesterday’s scenes showed that even if he loses his chair and a fresh face takes over, Yıldırım will remain the true chairman of the club – at least in Fenerbahçe
Verdicts on key names in football rigging case
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
A total of 48 football club officials, players and coaches were found guilty of match-fixing, while 44 people were cleared of charges. Below are verdicts on some of the key names in the case.
-Fenerbahçe chief Aziz Yıldırım: Sentenced to six years and three months in prison and given a penalty of one million Turkish liras for match-fixing and forming an unarmed crime gang.
-Fenerbahçe vice chairman Şekip Mosturoğlu: Sentenced to one year and 10 months in prison for match-fixing; is acquitted of crime gang membership charges.
-Fenerbahçe official İlhan Ekşioğlu: Sentenced to four years, four months and 15 days in prison and given a penalty of 900.000 Turkish liras for match-fixing.
-Former Giresunspor chairman Olgun Peker: Sentenced to two years and six months for forming and leading an crime gang.
-Former Eskişehirspor coach Bülent Uygun: Sentenced to 11 months and seven days in prison for accepting bribes.
-Bursaspor player Gökçek Vederson: Sentenced to five months in prison for accepting bribes.
-Former Istanbul BB player İbrahim Akın: Sentenced to one year and six months in prison for match-fixing and accepting bribes.
-Former Eskişehirspor player Ümit Karan: Sentenced to seven months and 15 days in prison and given a penalty of 66.000 Turkish liras for accepting bribes.
-Former Eskişehirspor player Mehmet Yıldız: Sentenced to one year and three months in prison for match-fixing.
official Serdar Adalı: Sentenced to one year and three months in prison and given a penalty of 250.000 Turkish liras for match-fixing.
coach Tayfur Havutçu: Sentenced to one year and three months in prison and given a penalty of 100.000 Turkish liras for match-fixing.
-Trabzonspor chairman Sadri Şener and board member Nevzat Şakar: Cleared of charges of match-fixing attempts.
-Gençlerbirliği goalkeeper Serdar Kulbilge: Cleared of charges of match-fixing.
-Former Bursaspor player Sercan Yıldırım: Cleared of charges of match-fixing.
-Former Eskişehirspor player Sezer Öztürk: Cleared of charges of match-fixing.