Fenerbahçe chairman slams club’s fans at title celebration

Fenerbahçe chairman slams club’s fans at title celebration

Fenerbahçe chairman slams club’s fans at title celebration

Aziz Yıldırım (C) during the trophy ceremony at the Şükrü Saraçoğlu stadium in IStanbul, May 11. AA Photo

Fenerbahçe supporters poured onto the streets on May 11 to celebrate the side’s 19th Turkish Super League championship, but amid the revelry, they also received an earful from the club’s president, Aziz Yıldırım.

Yıldırım was on stage at Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium May 11 before Fenerbahçe was given the league trophy. As the chairman was speaking, supporters in the stands behind the goal started to chant for Alex de Souza, a Brazilian midfielder who was controversially driven out of the club by Yıldırım last year.

“This is enough,” Yıldırım, who is soon to be jailed on a match-fixing conviction, shouted as he cut his speech. “We are celebrating the title of a team here. You put one person above Fenerbahçe, I brought Alex in, but you booed him [then],” Yıldırım told a group of Genç Fenerbahçeliler [Young Fenerbahçe Supporters].

“Insolents! Immorals! Mercenary dogs! I brought Alex to the club because I thought he would be useful to Fenerbahçe. And I sent back him because he would not be useful anymore. You are not a supporter of Fenerbahçe, you will not come back to these tribunes,” Yıldırım was heard saying, with applause from a section of the supporters.

Fenerbahçe was presented the trophy by Turkish Football Federation (TFF) Chairman Yıldırım Demirören following Yıldırım’s speech.

Yıldırım, whose six-year, three-month sentence in the Turkish football match-fixing case was approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals earlier this year, had appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeals Prosecutor’s Office for a “correction” of the decision. His appeal, however, was rejected last month, meaning that Yıldırım, arguably the most powerful man in Turkish football, will serve his sentence.

The conviction also means that Yıldırım will no longer be permitted to continue as the president of Fenerbahçe, according to the code for football club administrations.

Yıldırım also faces at least two years in prison due to Turkey’s execution laws; he already spent one year in jail while under arrest after the rigging probe was launched on July 3, 2011.

He was found guilty of attempting to manipulate several games in the 2010-2011 season, when Fenerbahçe pipped Trabzonspor to the title, as well as “forming an unarmed crime gang.”

The court also upheld the sentences of other Fenerbahçe officials, including İlhan Ekşioğlu, Şekip Mosturoğlu, Tamer Yelkovan and Cemil Turan, for their involvement in manipulating several games in the 2010-2011 Turkish championship.

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 against them.

Yıldırım, who has long said the match-fixing case was a plot to dethrone him, was hoping for a retrial after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent remarks against “a state within a state,” following a graft probe that targeted many key names in his government.

One of Erdoğan’s top aides said late in December 2013 that many controversial cases in recent Turkish history, including the Ergenekon and “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) coup-plot cases, were actually “conspiracies against the Turkish army,” signaling the possibility of a retrial.