Controversial ruling rocks Turkish football

Controversial ruling rocks Turkish football

Controversial ruling rocks Turkish football

Turkish Football Federation Chairman Yıldırım Demirören (pictured) announces that 16 of the 18 Spor Toto Super League clubs that played in last year’s competition will attend match-fixing hearings at the Professional Football Disciplinary Committee (PFDK). AA photo

Turkish Football Federation (TFF) Chairman Yıldırım Demirören said yesterday that 16 Turkish top-flight clubs, including the nation’s “big four,” would be probed by the national football’s governing body’s disciplinary committee regarding the match-fixing allegations.

Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor are among the 16 clubs involved in the 22 Spor Toto Super League matches that were allegedly manipulated.

Demirören’s announcement came after the Executive Board held three days of discussions on the Ethics Committee report, which was prepared by a five-person expert board working on the collected evidence.

“Our Executive Board has evaluated the report and decided to probe all clubs involved in the 22 games in front of the Professional Football Disciplinary Committee [PFDK],” Demirören said. “I have to say most clubs are not even touched by the match-fixing allegations, but they will face hearings in order to give them a chance for a judicial acquittal.”

This is the first concrete step by the TFF in dealing with the match-fixing case, which became public after the first wave of arrests on July 3, 2011. A total of 93 club officials, coaches and players were listed as suspects according to the indictment prepared by Istanbul prosecutor Mehmet Berk. There are currently 10 officials - including Fenerbahçe chairman Aziz Yıldırım, the highest-profile name in the case - jailed pending trial.

However, the TFF made a last-minute change to the 58th article of the Disciplinary Code yesterday, which will dramatically change the match-fixing case.

According to the change, any team found guilty of attempting to manipulate matches will not be punished with a relegation ban, as before, but with a points deduction and a financial penalty.
Yesterday, Demirören hinted that the PFDK would rule that there had been attempts at match-fixing, but that they had not had a major effect. “According to the Ethics Committee report, football’s basic values were not harmed and traces of [match-fixing] were not reflected on the pitch, which is a point that makes us happy,” he said.

Last season’s Spor Toto Super League champion Fenerbahçe, league runner-up Trabzonspor and Ziraat Turkish Cup winner Beşiktaş were the three top clubs that were listed in the indictment, but the inclusion of Galatasaray was a surprising move from the TFF. It was announced that Galatasaray would be attending the hearing as “complainant.”

Sixteen of the 18 teams that competed in last year’s championship will attend the hearing, with only Antalyaspor and Gaziantepspor being left outside.

Last week, Fenerbahçe withdrew an appeal against the TFF and UEFA at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, seeking 45 million Euros for its exclusion from the Champions League.

The club’s withdrawal fueled speculation that it was the result of a backroom deal with the TFF that would clear the club of charges, but Demirören dismissed the claims.

“There were no such talks. Fenerbahçe withdrew the appeal by the decision of its own board,” Demirören said. “As the TFF, we are a side in the case, so it is not possible for us to urge them to withdraw their case.”

Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç welcomed the TFF’s decision and said there had been no political intervention in it.

“These decisions are very important and are of major importance for the future of Turkish football,” Kılıç said in a statement. “There are no political aspects to their decisions … We are all in the same boat, and we share all these problems, so we all need to find the solutions together.”