Turkish PM Erdoğan hosts UEFA President Platini

Turkish PM Erdoğan hosts UEFA President Platini

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish PM Erdoğan hosts UEFA President Platini

Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) hosts UEFA President Michel Platini (C) and UEFA Vice Chairman and Turkish Football Federation (TFF) Honorary Chairman Şenes Erzik at a meeting in Ankara. TFF Chair Demirören (not pictured) was also present.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received UEFA President Michel Platini yesterday, with the match-fixing investigation believed to be on the agenda again.

Platini’s visit to Erdoğan came three days before the governing body of European football is due to hold its annual congress in Istanbul, with the participation of 53 chairmen of member federations. The visit also comes at a time when the relations between the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), Turkish clubs, and UEFA are at a critical stage in the match-fixing case.

Eight Turkish football clubs were allegedly involved in match-fixing last year, and risk being reprimanded by the TFF as well as sanctions regarding the European qualifications. Defending Spor Toto Super League champion Fenerbahçe, runner-up Trabzonspor, Ziraat Turkish Cup winner Beşiktaş, and cup finalist Istanbul B.B., along with Sivasspor, Eskişehirspor, Mersin İdman Yurdu and Bank Asya League One side Giresunspor had officials, players or coaches allegedly involved in match-fixing attempts last season. A total of 93 club officials, players and coaches, 16 of whom are jailed pending trial, are listed as suspects in the match-fixing case, which was started by an Istanbul prosecutor after allegations from Istanbul police that several games were manipulated last season.

Possible punishments

The aforementioned teams face possible punishments ranging from point deductions to relegation if found guilty. However, while the official TFF decision on the issue is yet to be made, a controversial decision by the TFF was made last summer, which barred Fenerbahçe from playing in the Champions League. The Istanbul team was excluded from the top-level competition in European football by a last-minute decision before the draw was made, and Trabzonspor was added to the competition.

The TFF announced that it took the decision after a request by the UEFA, but Fenerbahçe argued this was not the case and that the TFF had excluded the club on unlawful grounds. Fenerbahçe took the case to Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS), seeking compensation worth 45 million euros. The case is still ongoing.

In January, TFF chairman Mehmet Ali Aydınlar resigned from his post among mounting pressure. Former Beşiktaş chairman Yıldırım Demirören took over the vacant TFF chair.

The TFF and UEFA have held several meetings since July 3, when the investigation first became public, to address the alleged match-fixing issue. Demirören and TFF Honorary Chairman Şenes Erzik were also present at the meeting between Platini and Erdoğan yesterday.