Fenerbahçe chairman fires Gülen-link salvos at rival Galatasaray, football authority

Fenerbahçe chairman fires Gülen-link salvos at rival Galatasaray, football authority

Fenerbahçe chairman fires Gülen-link salvos at rival Galatasaray, football authority Fenerbahçe chairman Aziz Yıldırım has said that a probe into rival Galatasaray should be launched over links to U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, adding his club would file a complaint against the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) over suspected Gülenist activities against it.

“Tricks were played on Fenerbahçe. The things that Fenerbahçe went through since 1998 should be investigated,” Yıldırım told Turkish broadcaster NTV, adding Gülenists first contacted him in 1998. 

“These tricks were prepared in the TFF. Changes were made there. Who are the newly-assigned people? To whom they will serve? I have doubts,” he added. 

Saying that efforts were on the way in Fenerbahçe to get its rights back from the TFF, Yıldırım noted the club would seek material losses. 

“We will also file complaints against UEFA. We won’t do it for $40 or $50 million, we will file big complaints. We have a total debt of $227 million. We will get it all back due to the conspiracies that were plotted against us. Our budget will be in the positive. FETÖ [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] had an effect on UEFA. I’m sure. They’ve made the biggest mistake by not sending Fenerbahçe to the Champions League,” he added. 
The impact of Gülen on Turkish football has been an issue since the start of a broad match-fixing probe in 2011. 

An investigation into the match-fixing claims was opened on July 3, 2011. Yıldırım was first sentenced to jail in 2012 and fined 1.3 million Turkish Liras ($560,000) for forming a criminal gang and engaging in match-fixing during the 2010-2011 season. 

He served around one year behind bars before being freed pending a retrial. The Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court later issued a unanimous ruling that acquitted Yıldırım.

Yıldırım accused the Gülen movement over the match-fixing case, saying it was a politically-motivated plot aimed at taking over Fenerbahçe. 

During his interview, Yıldırım also said that a probe into Galatasaray should be launched over suspected links to the Gülenists, which are believed to have masterminded the July 15 failed coup attempt. 

“The 2009-2010 season should be investigated. All of the championships since 1998 should be investigated. If what happened to Fenerbahçe on July 3, 2011, is investigated, then it will lead to Galatasaray for FETÖ links,” he said. 

Meanwhile, a former Galatasaray player for whom a detention warrant was issued over links to Gülen said that he was “tricked” by the “treacherous group.”

“I will come to Turkey and answer all questions. I saw the true faces of those people [Gülenists] on July 15,” Uğur Tütüneker, who lives in Switzerland, said. 

An Istanbul prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for three former football stars as part of an investigation probing alleged infiltration of Gülenists into Turkish football on Aug. 24. 

Two weeks after a warrant was issued against footballer-turned-politician Hakan Şükür and his father Selmet Şükür over alleged links to FETÖ, Istanbul prosecutor Mehmet Şenay Baygın also issued warrants for former players Arif Erdem, İsmail Demiriz and Tütüneker.