President Erdoğan meets Fenerbahçe chairman amid anti-Gülen conciliation

President Erdoğan meets Fenerbahçe chairman amid anti-Gülen conciliation

President Erdoğan meets Fenerbahçe chairman amid anti-Gülen conciliation

AA photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted the Clubs’ Association Foundation in Ankara on Aug. 30, meeting Fenerbahçe chairman Aziz Yıldırım over five years after the Istanbul club was embroiled in a match-fixing scandal that it blames on the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. 

Yıldırım and Erdoğan’s last meeting was before the July 3, 2011 match-fixing probe, which Yıldırım has claimed was an attempt by the Gülen movement to take over Fenerbahçe. 

“Everyone knows what happened on July 3. We’ve experienced hardships. And everyone also knows what this terrorist organization [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ)] did in Dec. 17 and 25,” Yıldırım reportedly told Erdoğan at the Presidential Palace, referring to the December 2013 graft probes that targeted senior government figures. 

President Erdoğan has accused the Gülenists, who are believed to have been behind the July 15 failed coup attempt, over the December 2013 graft probe. 

“Unfortunately, some people didn’t support you enough in that process. But you stood firm. You also showed the same stance on July 15. If you weren’t the person leading us, we would be talking about completely different things,” Yıldırım also reportedly said.

Among the other invitees at the meeting were Youth and Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç, Turkish Football Federation (TFF) head Yıldırım Demirören, Clubs’ Association Foundation head Göksel Gümüşdağ and the chairs of Super League football clubs.

During the meeting, Erdoğan praised the stance of the football club chairs after the failed July 15 coup. 

“Everyone should be very careful against the treacherous terrorist organization FETÖ. Everyone should notify the security forces of people close to FETÖ. A big role falls on all football clubs. You’ve given a very beautiful image since July 15 and I’ve been very pleased by that,” he said. 

Erdoğan, Yıldırım and high-level Fenerbahçe officials held a private meeting afterward the main gathering, during which Yıldırım reportedly informed the president about the match-fixing scandal.

Yıldırım was fined 1.3 million Turkish Liras and sentenced to jail in 2012, serving around one year behind bars before being freed pending retrial. The Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court later issued a unanimous ruling that acquitted him.