Turkey federation deepens match-fixing probe

The Turkish Football Federation’s ethics committee was studying more than two dozen legal files in a match-fixing probe to decide whether to postpone the start of the league and impose sanctions against several clubs, including league champion Fenerbahce.

By (AP)

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Published: Fri 22 Jul 2011, 6:39 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:15 PM

Turkish authorities have charged and jailed about 30 suspects, including Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim. They are also looking into suspicious movement in the shares of Fenerbahce and some other clubs on the Istanbul stock market last season, a senior finance official said Friday.

The probe involving 19 games has severely shaken Turkish football and fueled the fury of hundreds of Fenerbahce fans who invaded the pitch during a friendly against Ukrainian champion Shakhtar Donetsk on Thursday night, forcing the abandonment of the game.

Fenerbahce fans — some wearing masks and T-shirts bearing the picture of jailed club president Aziz Yildirim — ran onto the pitch in the 67th minute of the game at Fenerbahce’s Sukru Saracoglu stadium and also attacked media representatives for what they regard as critical media coverage of the match-fixing probe.

The game came hours after Yildirim said in a letter that he would step down and after the federation indefinitely postponed the Turkish Super Cup final between Fenerbahce and Besiktas because both teams are implicated in the match-fixing probe.

Turkish federation president Mehmet Aydinlar said the ethics committee would decide whether to postpone the scheduled league start on Aug. 5.

Aydinlar is already against an early August start because of the hot weather.

Ethics committee members behind closed doors were examining 26 files, including testimonies of the suspects, the federation said. It was not clear if the committee would also impose any sanctions on Fenerbahce or any other club.

Fenerbahce, which has already lost millions of dollars after its shares plunged, has warned the federation in a strong message that postponement of the league would further harm the club.

The federation so far has refrained from taking any disciplinary measures against Fenerbahce or Trabzonspor, allowing them to compete in the Champions League.

Fenerbahce won 16 of 17 league matches in the latter part of the season to come from a distant third place and claim a record 18th title, beating Trabzonspor only on goal difference. Now, the club risks losing its league title in the same manner as Italian club Juventus, which was stripped of its 2005 and 2006 Serie A championships because of a similar scandal.

The scandal eroded shares in Fenerbahce by more than 35 percent on the Istanbul stock market since the news of the scandal surfaced earlier this month while shares of two other top Istanbul clubs Besiktas and Galatasaray also declined.

Vedat Akgiray, chairman of the Capital Markets Board of Turkey that regulates the stock market, said shares of some football clubs were under investigation, saying the outcome of the investigation would be critical to market players, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported Friday.

“If the uncertainity is not eliminated, the financial risk will grow and cause more trouble,” the Anatolia quoted Akgiray as saying in Washington. “We are looking into the (last) season, movement on the dates of alleged matches.”

Turkey is the latest country to be affected by a slew of match-fixing and betting scandals around the globe, from South Korea to Zimbabwe.

The Turkish government has promised to be tough on match-fixing, introducing legislation three months ago to confront hooliganism and cheating in football, which includes a maximum 12-year prison sentence for fixing games.

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