Yıldırım accuses Trabzon of rigging
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım claims the match-fixing investigation was intended to take over the Istanbul club. Hürriyet photoFenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım hit out at Trabzonspor in his defense in the football match-fixing case, saying he had proof that the Black Sea team paid 1 million Turkish liras in incentives.
Yıldırım made his highly-awaited defense at the landmark rigging case on March 30, repeating his claim that Fenerbahçe is being victimized as part of a plot.
The Fenerbahçe chairman, in jail since early July, is the highest-profile of 93 football officials, coaches and players currently being investigated as part of the case. The indictment is based on more than a dozen games played in the Turkish championship last year, which ended in Fenerbahçe’s victory, but Yıldırım claims runner-up Trabzonspor should have been the center of the case.
“It was Trabzonspor that used politics to run for the title, they pressured the government for the title,” Yıldırım said, adding that he would prove Trabzonspor had paid 1 million Turkish liras to Eskişehirspor as a match-fixing bribe. “The indictment should have been about them, and we should have been a sidebar.”
‘We know everything, but we can’t talk about it’
When Yıldırım said: “It is not us but Trabzonspor that paid Eskişehirspor. We know everything but we cannot talk about it,” head judge Mehmet Ekinci responded: “Perform a historic mission and tell everything you know.”
Yıldırım claimed that he was not in jail for match-fixing.
“That’s what I have been saying all along: We are not being charged with match-fixing here. This case is not about match-fixing. This is a plot to take over Fenerbahçe and to hold Aziz Yıldırım in prison,” he said.
“This indictment is some paper that should be thrown to the bin. It is not written by Prosecutor Mehmet Berk,” he said. “It was written in Çağlayan [the Istanbul courthouse] and sent to the Istanbul Police, then manipulated there. I will prove it. It was written solely to take over Fenerbahçe.”
Most Fenerbahçe fans share Yıldırım’s views, claiming that the match-fixing case was only opened in order to dethrone Yıldırım, in an attempt to take over the most coveted seat in Turkish football. They have said the evidence in the case is not convincing, and that it is another attempt by Fethullah Gülen’s religious community to take over the football scene, just as it has purportedly seized the state’s other key institutions.
That view was echoed at one of many street protests held by Fenerbahçe fans, when they gathered outside the Çağlayan Courthouse last month for the first round of the hearings. “The [Gülen] Community can’t cope with Fener,” read a banner, which was widely shared via social networking sites.
Yıldırım’s statements to journalists during a break in the hearing on Feb. 14 were similar. “They say it was match fixing. What match fixing?” Yıldırım said. “The country is getting out of hand, but all they talk about is match fixing.”
Ekinci was about to consider the lawyers’ demands for acquittal late Friday. Groups of Fenerbahçe fans were gathering outside the courthouse for the decision.
Meanwhile, Yıldırım will defend himself in front of the Professional Football Disciplinary Committee (PFDK) on April 2, regarding the Turkish Football Federation’s (TFF) own investigation into the case.
League game to be played amid higher tension
Fenerbahçe will visit Trabzonspor in a Spor Toto Super League match which will be played amid bigger tension in the wake of the latter’s chairman’s defense in the match-fixing case.
The game on April 1 would already be the highlight the match day 33, but Fener chairman Aziz Yıldırım’s remarks increased the tension.
During his defense at the Çağlayan Courthouse on March 30, Yıldırım claimed it Trabzonspor, not Fenerbahçe, should have been the center of the match-fixing case, which alleges at least a dozen games were manipulated last season.
Earlier Sunday, Medical Park Antalyaspor will play against Bursaspor and Beşiktaş meets Samsunspor in two crucial games in the relegation zone.
Antalya, six points ahead of Samsun, will remain in the top-flight if it can get at least one point against Bursaspor.
On March 31, leader Galatasaray takes on Orduspor, Sivasspor plays Istanbul BB, Kayserispor entertains Eskişehirspor and Gençlerbirliği hosts Manisaspor.