Court’s match-fixing decision ‘void,’ Fenerbahçe says
AA PhotoFenerbahçe deputy chairman, İlhan Ekşioğlu, says the club will “not respect” the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the prison sentence given to chairman Aziz Yıldırım over the match-fixing scandal.
On Jan. 17, the Supreme Court of Appeals announced its long awaited decision on the match-fixing case, approving Yıldırım’s six-year and three-month prison term for fixing matches and forming an unarmed crime gang.
The court also upheld the sentences of other Fenerbahçe officials, including Ekşioğlu, Şekip Mosturoğlu, Tamer Yelkovan and Cemil Turan, for their involvement in manipulating several games in the 2010-2011 Turkish championship.
Ekşioğlu, however, told the club’s official television channel FB TV that the decision was “void” for them.
“The legitimacy of the authorities conducting the inquiry on match-fixing is at stake at the moment,” he said on Jan. 18. “The prosecutors conducting it have either been reshuffled or disqualified, or are subjected to inquiries. So we don’t recognize the ruling.”
The match-fixing case was launched by prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, who was behind some of the most controversial cases in Turkey’s recent history, including the Ergenekon and Balyoz coup plot cases, as well as the recent corruption probe.
However, the government has signaled that the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases could be subjected to retrials, with a chief political advisor to the prime minister recently suggesting that “[the judiciary] made a conspiracy against its own army.”
The advisor, Yalçın Akdoğan, made the suggestion after the launching of a graft investigation, which began on Dec. 17 with the detentions of senior public figures, including the sons of three Cabinet ministers.
Over the weekend, Fenerbahçe announced that it would appeal the Supreme Court verdicts.
The case had been putting Fenerbahçe’s 2010-2011 season, in which it beat Trabzonspor to the title on goal difference, under scrutiny. The investigation also involved a number of players and officials from Beşiktaş, Eskişehirspor, Sivasspor, Giresunspor and Diyarbakırspor, and the Supreme Court also upheld the decisions on them.
The court ruling came two-and-a-half years after police first detained suspects and prosecutors eventually charged 93 individuals, including Yıldırım, in an investigation that went public on July 3, 2011. It means that Yıldırım, Ekşioğlu and all others convicted can no longer serve as club officials, according to the code for football club administrations.
Yıldırım, who had served one year behind bars and was released on July 3, 2012, based on time served, now has to serve an additional two years and two months in prison, according to the ruling. He will lose his Fenerbahçe chair, but the club has said it is mulling giving Yıldırım the title of honorary chairman.
Fenerbahçe’s executive board will convene on Jan. 21 to consider that possibility.
Yıldırım, who is currently on holiday in France, is expected to return to Turkey this week.