Fenerbahçe chairman convicted in match-fixing case but set for release

Fenerbahçe chairman convicted in match-fixing case but set for release

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Fenerbahçe chairman convicted in match-fixing case but set for release

Aziz Yıldırım. AA photo

Fenerbahçe President Aziz Yıldırım was sentenced today to six years in prison and fined 1.3 million Turkish Liras on charges of "forming a criminal organization" and "match fixing," but was set to be released later in the day based on time served.

Yıldırım's return to jail to serve his sentence will depend on the appeals process. The court also banned Yıldırım from continuing to direct Fenerbahçe, although the prohibition is subject to the appeals court approving the sentence against him.

Fellow Fenerbahçe official İlhan Ekşioğlu was sentenced to three years and one month in jail but was also released. Another high-profile suspect, former Beşiktaş director Serdar Adalı, was sentenced to one year and three months in prison on match fixing while Trabzonspor Chairman Sadri Şener was acquitted.

Yıldırım responded with a Fenerbahçe motto when asked what his final words were. "I trust the Turkish judges and prosecutors. Even standing at the gallows, our final word will be 'Fenerbahçe.' I want my acquittal," he said.

Fenerbahçe fans spent the night in front of the courthouse in Istanbul's Çağlayan neighborhood in a show of solidarity with Yıldırım.

The judge is expected to read the verdict after the suspects have their final say.

The landmark case, which became public after the first wave of detentions took place on July 3, 2011, was the first time high-profile Turkish teams and officials had become involved in such a probei which began on the back of allegations from Istanbul police that several games from the 2010-2011 Spor Toto Super League had been manipulated.

A total of 93 footballers, coaches and officials were listed as suspects in the indictment. The prosecutor has been seeking jail time for 21 people.

Prosecutor Ufuk Ermertcan is seeking prison terms for several members of Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor, as well as players from Eskişehirspor, Sivasspor, Gençlerbirliği and Bursaspor, for their alleged involvement in the manipulation of league games. Two officials from Beşiktaş are also listed as suspects for their alleged attempts to manipulate the team’s 2011 Ziraat Turkish Cup victory over Istanbul BB.

Yıldırım, who is arguably the most powerful man in Turkish football, is the highest-profile name in the case and has been jailed pending charges since early July 2011.

Former Giresunspor chairman and alleged mob leader Olgun Peker and player agent Yusuf Turanlı are the remaining people jailed pending charges.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) made its own investigation into the scandal and decided that there were efforts to manipulate some matches but that they were “not reflected on the pitch.”

The TFF cleared all 16 Turkish clubs, including Fenerbahçe, of involvement in the alleged match-fixing scandal, but it has banned players and club officials for manipulating and attempting to manipulate games.

Former Istanbul BB player İbrahim Akın got the biggest ban, receiving a suspension from football for two years for manipulating a Fenerbahçe-Istanbul BB match. 

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