Gül worried by sports law change
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
President Abdullah Gül speaks at a press conference before his departure for Kyrgzstan yesterday. ‘Frankly, I am concerned about that law,’ said Gül. AA photoTurkish President Abdullah Gül expressed concern yesterday about a law on violence in sports, hinting that he might not approve recent amendments that could result in lighter bans for match fixing.
The law should have been prepared “in a more proper way,” Gül said at a press conference in Ankara before embarking on a trip to Kyrgyzstan.
“Frankly, I am concerned about that law,” he said. “A law that was ratified six months ago should have been prepared in a more proper way.”
Parliament last week passed amendments on a few articles in the law in a move that could lead to lighter punishments for suspects in an ongoing match-fixing case.
The proposal suggests changes to articles in the law on violence which led to the arrests of 31 club officials, players and coaches after the match-fixing inquiry started July 3.
An investigation was launched at the end of 2010 after a new law on violence in sports came into effect. The law includes several points on match fixing, along with crowd trouble.
According to the law, those found guilty of involvement in match fixing would face five to 12 years in jail. If the amendments are accepted, the sentence would decrease to between one and three years in total. However, the law needs Gül’s approval before going into effect.
Earlier this week, Şamil Tayyar, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), wrote a letter to Gül criticizing the amendments, which were prepared via the joint efforts of the deputy group leaders of all four political parties in the legislature. Tayyar objected to the regulations, stating that the approved proposal not only reduced sentences for match fixing, but also took rigging out of the category of “organized crime.”
“If the proposal becomes a law, the suspects will be released, and their cases will be left unresolved because the cases will be handled at ordinary courts and not at Serious Crimes Courts,” said Tayyar, urging politicians to come together to fight against the sports mafia in Istanbul and adding that he hoped the president would not approve the law.
Football clubs and influential athletes have lobbied political parties to amend the law on match fixing and penalties for offering incentives to rivals’ opponents to win.
Sports Minister Suat Kılıç said previously during the debate at the Justice Commission that the presidents of all 18 clubs had conveyed their desire to amend the law.
The proposal was then submitted to the Parliament Speaker’s Office with the signatures of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
Passing the proposal depends on the commission’s decision, said Kılıç, adding that the proposal was not drafted on behalf of the government.
The BDP was the first group to take into account public indignation over the reduction of sentences for match fixing. The party’s deputy group chairman, Hasip Kaplan, said the previous law had not been properly evaluated before being passed and that public opinion should also be considered with the new law. Kaplan then withdrew his signature from the proposal.
Despite some criticism from individual CHP and MHP deputies, the proposal was approved at the commission with the support of the AKP, CHP and MHP.
The bill was then discussed at the General Assembly without the BDP, and was once again passed with the votes of the AKP, CHP and MHP despite some objection from individual deputies.
“My party may have signed this amendment proposal that was brought to the agenda in eight months, but I will vote against it,” said CHP Deputy Volkan Canalioğlu.
“As the public sees it, we are passing this law to get these people out of prison. From now on, the least we can do is be more careful and determined with the new laws that we pass. It is my personal opinion that we must review laws better,” said MHP Hatay Deputy Adnan Şefik Çirkin.
After the General Assembly, the law was sent to Gül’s office.
Last season’s Spor Toto Super League champion Fenerbahçe, runner-up Trabzonspor and Ziraat Turkish Cup winner Beşiktaş are the three high-profile teams involved in the case. All risk being relegated from the top flight for the first time in their history. The Super League’s Sivasspor, Eskişehirspor and Istanbul BB, as well as League One sides Giresunspor and Diyarbakırspor, have also been involved in the case.