Turkish PM favoring ‘Thatcher way’ for punishments
ISTANBUL-Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) welcomed UEFA President Michel Platini last week when the Frenchman was in Turkey for the annual UEFA Congress. AA PhotoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has suggested that Turkey should follow the “Thatcher way” by banning teams to fight match-fixing, saying that a European ban could be acceptable.
Erdoğan voiced his disagreement with UEFA President Michel Platini on how to handle the possible bans in the match-fixing case, in which some of the top names in Turkish football from eight teams, including top clubs Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor, are allegedly involved. In a speech at the UEFA Congress in Istanbul, Erdoğan said the clubs should not be punished for crimes committed by individuals, implying that the clubs whose officials, players or coaches were involved in match-fixing might not be punished.
“We have to identify a difference between the individual and the legal entity,” Erdoğan told representatives of UEFA’s 53 member associations. “We should act against the individuals who committed the crime. Only they should be given the highest sanctions. If we were to punish legal entities for the crimes of individuals, millions of people would be punished.”
However, Platini said things do not work that way. “In principle, I agree,” Platini said. “[But] this is how it is. If there is another way, we’ll think about it.”
Erdoğan is standing firm to make his case, according to the daily Hürriyet. “Platini has told me I was right, but that [what I suggested] is not the common practice. Then I say let’s fix it,” Erdoğan said.
“[Investigators] would look to see if attempts at match-fixing were reflected on the pitch and then [the Turkish Football Federation’s Disciplinary Committee] would decide. … Otherwise, why punish the clubs? Why give penalties? What happens if eight clubs are relegated? [Turkish] football would be over.”
Erdoğan said that letting the match-fixing go unpunished, even if that would mean a UEFA ban was in the cards, could be one possible solution. “I gave Platini the English example. Under [Former English Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher English teams were banned from European qualification for five years. What happened when the English teams did not play in Europe? They went on very well. And then they hefted trophies when they came back.”
Yıldırım defense postponed to today
Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım’s highly-anticipated defense in the match-fixing case was rescheduled to today, due to earlier defenses taking longer than expected.
Yıldırım, who is the highest-profile name in the case that has a total of 93 suspects, has promised to unveil a number of key documents that will “prove the case was not about cleansing football” and that “Trabzonspor officials were aware that Fenerbahçe board members were being wiretapped all along.”
Yıldırım, listed as the number two suspect, is charged with allegedly forming a crime organization and manipulating several games, which led to the Fenerbahçe’s 18th league championship last season. However, most Fenerbahçe fans share Yıldırım’s view, claiming that the match-fixing case was only opened to dethrone Yıldırım, in an attempt to take over the most coveted seat in Turkish football.
Yıldırım was expected to take the stage at the Çağlayan Courthouse yesterday, but due to a series of long testimonies, the Fenerbahçe chairman’s defense was postponed to today.
Jailed since early July, Yıldırım is one of 16 names jailed pending trial in the case. The head judge Mehmet Ekinci is expected to consider suspects’ lawyers’ acquittal requests.