New football blow as 93 charged in rigging case
Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım (2nd from R) faces up to 138 years in prison. AA photoTurkish football has again become overshadowed by events off the field following the release Dec. 3 of a long-awaited indictment into a match-fixing scandal that has charged a number of football officials with manipulating matches as well as forming illegal organizations.
Istanbul Prosecutor Mehmet Berk prepared the indictment and presented it to the court, opening a new chapter in the gripping match-fixing scandal which has rocked the Turkish football agenda since the summer.
Prosecutors charged a total of 93 club officials, players and coaches in the 401-page indictment; 31 of the 93 have been in jail pending trial since the investigation was made public on July 3.
Olgun Peker, a former chairman of second-tier club Giresunspor, is the number one suspect in the case, while Fenerbahçe chairman Aziz Yıldırım, the highest-profile name in the investigation, was called the number two.
Peker was charged with “leading an armed crime organization” and manipulating games as part of that organization, along with 13 suspects.
Yıldırım was charged with a total of 13 different crimes, including “leading an unarmed organization formed to get unlawful profit,” “fraud” in six matches, “fixing” four matches and paying incentives to another team in three matches. The reason the alleged manipulation of six aforementioned matches was named “fraud” is because “match fixing” was not defined prior to the law on violence in sports, which went into effect earlier this year.
Daily Hürriyet reported that the prosecutor has sought up to 138 years of imprisonment for Yıldırım.
Yıldırım announced via his lawyer that the indictment was comical. “He is in a good health and morale condition and said, ‘Let Turkey watch this comedy,’” lawyer Faik Işık quoted his client Yıldırım as saying, according to Doğan news agency. “How can prosecutors announce the details of the indictment when the case was filed as confidential?”
The Istanbul court is to examine the indictment within a maximum 15 days and will decide whether to accept or reject the case.
Apart from last season’s Spor Toto Super League champion Fenerbahçe, runner-up Trabzonspor, Ziraat Turkish Cup winner Beşiktaş, Manisaspor, Mersin İdman Yurdu and Istanbul BB, as well as League One side Giresunspor have also been involved in the case.
Turkish Football Federation (TFF) vice chairman Göksel Gümüşdağ, who was the boss of Istanbul BB earlier this year, is among the suspects.
Trabzonspor chairman Sadri Şener and board member Nevzat Şakar, as well as Beşiktaş board member Serdal Adalı and coach Tayfur Havutçu, are also charged with attempting to manipulate games.
Those two teams are still playing in European competitions, with UEFA yet to evaluate their fate. The Hürriyet Daily News tried to contact the European football’s governing body on the issue, but its calls went unanswered.
Fenerbahçe was barred from the Champions League by a TFF decision after a UEFA request earlier this summer.
Following the indictment, the prosecutor filed a request to the police that suspected players not be allowed to stadiums.
Bursaspor’s Gökçek Vederson and Eskişehirspor’s Mehmet Yıldız were left out of the two teams’ Spor Toto Super League match yesterday.
Galatasaray’s Sercan Yıldırım, who was transferred from Bursaspor in the summer, will not be allowed to play either. The player was on the pitch as Galatasaray beat Gençlerbirliği 1-0 on Dec. 3, however, and provided an assist to Emmanuel Eboue in scoring the only of the game.
Şener and Şakar of Trabzonspor; TFF vice chairman Gümüşdağ; Mersin İdman Yurdu’s chairman Ali Kahramanlı, as well as its vice chairman, Beşir Acar; Fenerbahçe midfielder Sezer Öztürk; Gençlerbirliği goalkeeper Serdar Kulbilge; Sivasspor player Mahmut Boz; Karşıyaka’s Mustafa Ulaş Ortakaya and Eyüpspor goalkeeper Murat Şahin will not be permitted to play for their clubs.