Fenerbahçe executive and fans defy match-fixing claims
Fenerbahçe supporters are seen during a demonstration in Kadıköy. The poster bearing Aziz Yıldırım’s photo reads ‘We’ll be there for you until the end, Great Chairman.’ DHA photoFenerbahçe Vice Chairman Nihat Özdemir said yesterday the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) should be careful when deciding on the punishments for match-fixing allegations as thousands of Fenerbahçe fans took to the streets in protest of the probe.
“There is an ongoing process, the TFF has ethics, disciplinary, arbitration and administration boards to decide on the issue,” Özdemir told the Doğan news agency in Ankara regarding a question about how the TFF should act on the match-fixing claims.
So far a total of 93 football officials, players and coaches have been named as suspects in the match-fixing case that was launched on July 3. More than 20 of the suspects, including Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım and Fenerbahçe Vice Chairman Şekip Mosturoğlu, are currently in jail pending trial.
Özdemir said the TFF should take the condition of Turkish football into consideration and must act in a way that will not hurt Turkish football.
Supporters on streets
The vice chairman also reiterated his hope that Fenerbahçe officials would be acquitted by the court, just like thousands of Fenerbahçe fans did in Istanbul yesterday.
Fenerbahçe supporters gathered in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul in a meeting to protest the ongoing match-fixing probe and arrest of Fenerbahçe officials. Many famous Fenerbahçe supporters, including painter Bedri Baykam and actor Burak Sergen, executive board members, relatives of the executives under arrest, former Fenerbahçe players and coach Aykut Kocaman were among the participants of the protest.
The participants shouted slogans in support of Yıldırım and other Fenerbahçe executives and criticized the TFF.
Speaking at the protest, Kocaman said he was proud to be with the fans. “I’m not here as the football team’s coach, I’m here as a member of the Fenerbahçe family,” said the coach, who is also a former player of the Istanbul club.
Fenerbahçe Chairman Yıldırım sent a message to the supporters, which was read by his lawyer Yasemin Erçel. In his message, Yıldırım said they are “innocent and clean.”
Yıldırım said the first trial on Feb. 14 will be a milestone in Turkish football.
“We will confute all allegations directed at us,” read Yıldırım’s message. “Those who mastermind this operation and see it as an opportunity to finish off Fenerbahçe will fail. The remains of this probe will be how you embraced the club and our great love for the yellow-blue jersey.”
Yıldırım said the support of thousands who gathered in Kadıköy, and millions of others, have been supporting the club and its executives. “Your support helps us forget our problems and even illnesses,” said the Fenerbahçe chairman, who is kept in Metris Prison in Istanbul.
Other Fenerbahçe officials under arrest also sent messages to the meeting. The messages were read by relatives of the suspects.