Fener fans to descend on court
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Around 800 football fans, with the majority being Fenerbahçe supporters, were outside the Çağlayan Courthouse in Istanbul yesterday. A much bigger crowd is expected today when Aziz Yıldırım set to make his defense. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELFenerbahçe fans are readying to turn Çağlayan Courthouse into a sea of yellow and navy blue as the club’s Chairman Aziz Yıldırım is set to make his defense as part of the match-fixing case today.
The chairman, the highest-profile name in the gripping match-fixing investigation and arguably the most powerful man in Turkish football, has been behind bars since early July pending charges, and his defense has been eagerly awaited by Fenerbahçe fans ever since Yıldırım vowed to “shock Turkey.”
In statements released on several Fenerbahçe fan group websites, supporters have been called to pay their support to Yıldırım and four other club officials, including Vice Chairman Şekip Mosturoğlu and club legend Cemil Turan.
There were nearly 800 people yesterday at the courthouse, with predominantly Fenerbahçe fans and a small group of Giresunspor fans. A 30-strong group was present in support of Bank Asya League One club’s former Chairman Olgun Peker, the No. 1 suspect in the case.
Peker, described as the main ringleader in the broad match-fixing scheme, was the first to give his defense to the court.
“Match fixing is such a despicable allegation, such a smear campaign against me,” Peker was quoted by Reuters as telling the court. Peker faces a maximum of 115 years in prison if convicted, according to the indictment. Bora Akgün, a Giresunspor supporter, told Hürriyet Daily News he does not believe the club’s chairman and board member Coşkun Çalık was involved in any illegal organization, saying the indictment was slander to oppress Giresunspor.
The Giresunspor fan’s sentiments echoed those of Fenerbahçe fans and board members who repeatedly claimed the case was politically motivated.
“Nobody can stand up to Fenerbahçe,” the fans cheered while some lit flares. “See you at the ballot box,” they chanted, in a reference to Yıldırım’s comments to journalists Feb. 17 during a court break that the case was politically motivated.
A group of 15 Fenerbahçe supporters came from Sweden just for the hearings, said the chairman of the Stockholm-based association. “We came here with the love of Fenerbahçe to draw attention of society to this case, which is a plot in our opinions,” Serdar Öztenar said.
Öztenar said the association had nearly 300 members, who are both Swedish and Turkish people in Stockholm.
Fenerbahçe and Giresunspor are among the eight teams whose officials, players and coaches were charged of being part of a criminal organization who allegedly manipulated games.
Fenerbahçe’s rivals Trabzonspor and Beşiktaş also have officials allegedly involved, along with Istanbul BB, Sivasspor, Mersin İdman Yurdu and Eskişehirspor officials.
A total of 93 football club officials, players and coaches are listed as suspects in the case.
However, today the focus will be on Yıldırım. Yıldırım, who has spent several stints of the last eight months in hospitals due to diabetes, was taken to a medical room yesterday. He was then announced to be in good condition.