Fenerbahçe supporters march to protest UEFA ban

Fenerbahçe supporters march to protest UEFA ban

Fenerbahçe supporters march to protest UEFA ban

Fenerbahçe supporters march to protest UEFA's decision to ban their club from European soccer for two seasons. AA photo

Supporters and ultras of Turkey's football giant Fenerbahçe took to the street today to protest UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Committee's decision this week to ban the club from all continental competitions for two years.

Hundreds of fans gathered in Fenerbahçe jerseys and scarves on the Asian shores, where the club is rooted, to march toward the Şükrü Saraçoğlu stadium.  Supporters filled the wide Bağdat Avenue, the heart of the Asian side's entertainment and shopping area.

Fenerbahçe had received last week a two-year ban from UEFA for match-fixing allegations, with an additional one year possible if a similar infraction is committed within a probationary period of five years.

Archrivals Beşiktaş were also handed a one-year ban. Both clubs have announced that they will appeal the decision.

Both Turkish clubs and their executives are involved in a match-fixing probe that started on July 3, 2011, regarding a number of games in the 2010-2011 season, when Fenerbahçe won the league.

Several Fenerbahçe officials, including Chairman Aziz Yıldırım and Vice Chairman Şekip Mosturoğlu, were found guilty of rigging when the judge gave his verdict last July. The Fenerbahçe chairman was sentenced to six years and three months in prison, pending appeal.

However, the Turkish Football Federation decided that even though there had been attempts to manipulate games, those efforts were "not reflected on the pitch," and refused to punish any of the teams whose officials were charged with match fixing, but did not allow Fenerbahçe to participate in the Champions League in the subsequent season after talks with UEFA.

Fenerbahçe had a remarkable run in the Europa League this season, finishing on the brink of their first continental final after being eliminated by Benfica in the semis.

If the appeals of both clubs are rejected, Bursaspor, who came fourth in the table, will take Fenerbahçe's spot in the Champions League, while Kayserispor, who came fifth, will participate in the Europa League instead of Beşiktaş. Istanbul minnows Kasımpaşa will take the Europa League seat vacated by Bursaspor to participate in the first European competition in the team's history.