Turkish football rivalry reignites over match-fixing

Fenerbahçe wins the national championsship 2011 over Trabzonspor. Photo by Flickr/Muzo178


By Stine Alvad
Turkish football club Fenerbahçe remains in Champions League in spite of several arrests and sentences regarding match-fixing, supporters of rival club Trabzonspor, are calling on UEFA to adhere to their own zero tolerance policy and relegate Fenerbahçe.

“It was like a very big earthquake with a very big impact”, said Turkish sports journalist Banu Yelkovan to BBC World football about the day in July 2011 when the story about widespread match-fixing stemming from Turkish football top club Fenerbahçe FC broke. “Our world changed, nothing was going to be like before.”

Fenerbahçe had had 17 wins and one loss in 18 matches when it broke that there had been an extensive system of match-fixing involved in the winning streak.

A large number of players, referees and officials were questioned in court and 61 were arrested.

Among the arrested was Fenerbahçe president Aziz Yildirim who was later sentenced to three years and nine months in jail for match-fixing and another two years and six months for forming an illegal cartel around the rigged matches.

Fenerbahçe was allowed to stay in the nationals while investigations were ongoing and beat Trabzonspor FC in the national final. But after the first report on the case by the Turkish high court was released, and UEFA chief inspector of the Disciplinary Committee Pierre Cornu had been in Turkey to oversee the investigation, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) withdrew Fenerbahçe from the 2011/2012 Champions League season and UEFA invited runner-up Trabzonspor to join instead.

This series of events led to the resignation of Yildirim and three other high ranking members of the TTF.

Prime ministerial help
Since then, the Turkish parliament, backed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who is allegedly a Fenerbahçe fan, passed a new match-fixing law. The new law reduces sentences for sports crimes such as involvement in match rigging.

And although a suggestion to allow clubs involved in match-fixing to avoid relegation was first rejected by the General Convention of the TFF in January, the federation changed path and in April this year amended an article in their rules allowing clubs to stay in competitions in spite of match-fixing attempts - as long as the attempts are not reflected on the field..

In May, the TFF, backed by the Turkish government, cleared all clubs involved in the match-fixing scandal.

UEFA investigates
The Turkish case is currently being investigated by inspectors in the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body. The international football body FIFA has also requested insight to the Turkish files.

During the draw for this season’s Champions League in July, UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino said that the status of Fenerbahçe could still change and that UEFA disciplinary inspectors were studying files including the TFF decisions, which cleared the re-entry of the club.

“It’s a complicated case and our disciplinary bodies are going through the procedure,” he said according to AP.

According to journalist James M. Dorsey, an expert in football in the Middle East, UEFA could impose sanctions on Fenerbahçe, but it would not be without consequences:

“UEFA could opt to extend Fener’s ban, as well as expand it to other prominent clubs implicated in the scandal such as Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor. A UEFA intervention would reflect poorly on Mr. Erdoğan, taint Turkey’s already damaged image and further complicate its bid to host the 2020 European football championship,” writes Dorsey in an article about the Turkish case.

In the UEFA press release on the draw, Infantino underlined UEFA’s zero tolerance against match-fixing:

“UEFA will continue with its zero tolerance policy towards any involvement in illegal or irregular activities connected to our matches, and anyone caught risks a life ban from the game.”

Activists call on UEFA
These repeated assurances of zero tolerance against what UEFA president Platini has called the ‘biggest threat against football’, are what different groups of activists and supporters are now holding against the European football body.

UEFA has on several occasions acknowledged and sanctioned against the match-fixing going on in the Turkish league but still they have aligned with Turkish regulations and allowed Fenerbahçe to compete in the current Champions League season citing an on-going review by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body.

“For the time being, therefore, Fenerbahçe may participate in the UEFA competition for which they are eligible, pending a final decision of the UEFA disciplinary body on the matter,” UEFA writes in a statement.

UEFA further refers to their general stances and measures against match-fixing as stated in the UEFA Strategy on matchfixing and corruption.

Various groups are now forming and are protesting the state of football in Turkey and what they see as the lack of action from both national and international federations. The groups primarily consist of Trabzonspor fans, who feel the club missed out on the national title when Fenerbahçe was allowed to play the 2011 final. The groups call on UEFA to act according to their own zero tolerance policy and exclude clubs that have been convicted of match-fixing.

“Despite all solid evidence and court’s decision that sentenced Fenerbahçe’s president, vice presidents and board members to imprisonment for fixing 11 matches in total, UEFA’s unacceptable approach to this case continues,” says an email, sent to UEFA on November 18 from one of the advocating groups.

“Michel Platini’s and Gianni Infantino’s comments regarding this case and examples they gave are not too far to remember. As they underlined several times, even suspicion is enough to give a verdict on this sort of cases, but you kept ignoring the fact that this crime was penalised by court, but yet to be punished by yourselves,” continues the letter, which is posted on the group’s website stopmatchfixing.com.

UEFA has no comments on the critique raised by the fan groups.

Declan Hill, PhD and author of match-fixing book “The Fix”, offers his support to the fan groups and the effort they are putting into cleaning Turkish football. And he - stressing no particular preference for Trabzonspor - emphasizes a march held last month by Trabzonspor fans protesting in front of UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

Hill also encourages fans of the game from other countries in Europe to put in the same effort in an act to clean up the game:

“It may be time for football fans across Europe to start imitating their Turkish colleagues and protest about the levels of corruption that are in our beloved sport,” Hill writes in his blog.

  • KAZM CKMK, Turkey, 18.01.2013 09:20:
    Football crime is beginning more and more serious in Turkey as the federation insists to save Fenerbahce FC. The fans of other teams do not toletate anything from FB. The federation should vive the suitable punishment and stop this non-tolerant sports environment in Turkey. Either Fenerbahce or Turkey will lose.
  • Serkan KILIÇ, Ankara, 22.12.2012 09:20:
    UEFA did not give penalties or bans to the matchfixers. They give permission to matchfixers to play in international competitions. Italy, Spain, Germany, Britain, France shall not just watch this situation. They must force UEFA to give penalties to the matchfixers. Fenrbahce club chairman Aziz Yıldırım has been found guilty because of matchfixing.
  • Hasan Kartal, Istanbul, 21.12.2012 09:19:
    Fenerbahce, TFF, Erdogan and UEFA : All dirty.
    This is the power of money and politics.
  • Andrew Carsson, Switzerland, 21.12.2012 09:13:
    Match fixers must be punished.
  • Serkan KILIC, Turkey Ankara, 19.12.2012 09:13:
    Mr.Platini and Mr.Infantino are sleeping beauties. Their zero tolerance is big lie. They do not react and give penalties to matchfixers but they give Shaktar player Adriano because of scoring a unethical goal.
  • Yücel Kader, Turkey, 18.12.2012 09:12:
    Mr Platini is the biggest match fixer. We did not forget Lyon and Ajax.
  • Bjorn Murat Alpella, Turkey, 18.12.2012 09:11:
    As you are aware, the judge (Mehmet Ekinci) of the match fixing case in Turkey announced the verdict regarding the detainees today and found several board members of different clubs guilty in Turkish Super League for the 2010-2011 season.

    The outcome of the verdict ,concerning the football side of the case, is Fenerbahce SK is found guilty for matcth fixing along side other teams and Trabzonspor SK is clean. Therefore, as a Turkish citizen and football fan I demand Justice for the sake of Fair Play.

    I would like to list the verdict concerning Fenerbahçe SK and Trabzonspor SK at this stage and would like you to take an immediate action to force Turkish Football Federation to act according to the rules and regulations of TFF and UEFA about match fixing.

    1)Aziz Yıldırım ( Fenerbahce SK-President );

    6 years and 3 months for match fixing and illegal activities in 7 matches and being head of an illegal organisation

    2)İlhan Yüksel Ekşioğlu ( Fenerbahce SK-Vice President );

    2 years and 6 months for match fixing and illegal activities in 5 matches and being a member of an illegal organisation

    3)Mehmet Şekip Mosturoğlu ( Fenerbahçe SK-Vice President );

    1 year 10 moths and 14 days for match fixing and illegal activities in 3 matches and being a member of an illegal organisation

    4)Mecnun Odyakmaz ( Sivas SK-President) ;

    1 year and 6 months and 22 days for match fixing in Fenerbahce SK match against Sivasspor SK

    5)None of the Trabzonspor SK board members or any persons related to Trabzonspor SK are found guilty

    6)Football players such as; İbrahim Akın, Korcan Çelikay, Gökçek Vederson, Mehmet Yıldız and Ümit Karan are also found guilty due to match fixing and illegal activities that Fenerbahce SK were involved.

    7)Some other managers and club members such as; Tamer Yelkovan (Fenerbahce SK acoounts manager), Bülent Uygun (manager of Eskişehir FC) Tayfur Havutçu( Beşiktaş JK manager), Serdar Adalı (Beşiktaş JK board member), Samet Güzel (Fenerbahce SK translater) are also found guilty.

    Fenerbahce is dependent from his officials and regarding this Fenerbahce should get a punishment if his officials have
    got a punishment.

    Please punish Fenerbahce for clean and fair football...

    where is the zero tolerance?
  • Ertan ARTAN, İzmir/TÜRKİYE, 18.12.2012 09:10:
    Turkish Football Federation (TFF)is the most dishonest institution in Türkiye. TFF serves only 3 clubs (Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, Beşiktaş) of Istanbul. Also all match-fixing situations associate with these clubs.
    These clubs are a kind of humpback for Turkish football.

    And UEFA, oh UEFA... You are best math-fixer in Europa...
  • Ali Sami Yen Sokak, Istanbul, 18.12.2012 09:09:
    Dear Madame/Sir,
    We were trying to warn the world football community that there is a corrupted football mechanism in Turkey. Match Fixing Scandal was being covered-up by the politicians, Turkish FA, clubs that are under investigation and the media. We will remind you what happened after match fixing scandal.

    After match fixing scandal, "Violence In Sports Law No. 6222" was amended on 10.12.2011 by Parliament. Penalty of fixing a match was minimized. The second stage, Turkish FA amended Disciplinary Regulations Article 58 on 30.04.2012 and eased penalties for match fixing during investigation.
    After amending Article 58, Turkish FA announced: The Clubs attempted to rig matches but did not manage to change! Some board members were punished by Turkish FA, but the clubs not. According to Turkish FA Disciplinary Committee report: “the clubs can not be responsible or victim of match fixing.”
    The politicians badly affects autonomous institutions. The politicians decide who will be FA president, offer to punish only the board members not the clubs.
    Court of the Match Fixing case in Turkey found more than 30 persons ( chairmen, board members, players, attendants, managers, coach, interpreter ) of the clubs guilty. Another verdict is that there is a huge criminal organisation.

    Are the disciplinary proceedings of UEFA & FIFA different for each Football Association? We are disappointed in the inaction of UEFA and FIFA. After bribery scandal in FIFA, Turkish football fans are worried about whether FIFA & UEFA's zero tolerance policy to illegalities, corruptions would be sacrificed to bribery?
    There are lots of different crimes such as match fixing, amending laws, separating the board members and the clubs, organizing criminal activities in Turkey. FIFA & UEFA, the EUROPEAN UNION, the EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, the EUROPEAN COMMISSION, the COUNCIL of EUROPEAN UNION have to notice all of them. If we together do not fight against such illegalities, corruptions and criminal acts, one day it is going to be too late.

    We just want clean football. We want fair-play. Without them football is not good for the youth and the society. As Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
    We attach the documents with the sources; what UEFA, Michel Platini, Gianni Infantino, Turkish Politicians, Turkish FA and its former president said and did during the match fixing scandal. Please read and hope to hear our voice.
    Turkish Football Fans
  • Murat Velioğlu, Kocaeli / TURKEY, 18.12.2012 09:09:
    In my country, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş, Sivas Spor ve Gençlerbirliği clubs are arranged matches, and they proved to the court. But unfortunately, he just does not want the prime minister to those sentenced for fixing what was given back to the right nor the rights of those who have been usurped. This is Turkey.
  • idris ofluoglu, trabzon, 18.12.2012 09:08:
    fenerbahçe is clean. there isn't any match fixing.

    i am Trabzonspor fan. Bize her yer trabzon. 61.
  • aygün aygün, sakarya, 18.12.2012 08:49:
    Is Match fixing legal in turkey?

    Match Fixing Fenerbahçe.

    I'm a Fan from Trabzonsor.
  • Emre Bayburtluoğlu, Turkey, 18.12.2012 08:48:
    As a simple and ordinary word is Money Talks and Trabzonspor has not eneough money to full in starving UEFA Disciplinary Committee members and their greedy president Platini,also pls consider that son of the richest person and holding company of Turkey,who is Ali Koç was a memberboard of Fenerbahçe(was formed into Match-fixingGarden since July 3rd,2011)and it was not big suprise when we focused on the commercial board with commercials 'Yapı Kredi Bank'in the Champions League matches near the pitches.The gossip says the money is about 50 million Euros flowing into Uefa members' pocket by this way.
    And pls add this info that most powerfull person Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is unfourtanetely our prime minister and supporter of Match-FixingGarden Sport Club and he was offered to Platini to separate the crime and criminal to clean up this case(should the Romans bones turn upside down in their graves).And our PM guided Yıldırım Demirören to clean up this case in Turkish Football Federation by selected him president of Federation and the he did.(Pls be noted that this person was the president of Beşiktas Sport Club before the selection of TFF and Besiktas has been banned for one year by UEFA due the forgery documents :) )
    We may beat our rivals on the pitch but we always lost on the table becouse of Trabzon and North Blacksea Region is not rich enoug to playing with this way againts to İstanbul and its footbal clubs.

    By the way we are the persons who struggling with the our third world country and justice and if you're not a ignored or dumped one you can easily realise how our situation and what the hell is going on Turkish Football.
  • Ayse Birinci, Istanbul, 18.12.2012 08:48:
    With such a strong evidence and the decision of court, it is unbelievable to see the criminals go unpunished by the Federation and Government. The Turkish Press is also siding with the powers that be, meaning that we have very little chance for our voice to be heard. What's also more shocking is the silence of UEFA & FIFA! Yapi Kredi Bank is now the official sponsor of Champions League and this Bank belongs to the holding of Ali Koc, who is a board member at Fenerbahce. Fair Play & Zero Tolerance indeed!!!
  • Salih Bildiren, İstanbul, 18.12.2012 08:47:
    Before Uefa says;
    Match Fixing = Zero tolerance

    Match Fixing = Give me the money and get rid!
  • Mustafa Demir, Gaziantep, 18.12.2012 08:46:
    why did "the Bank of Yapı Kredi" which belongs to Koc'family, one of the member was ex-vice president of Fenerbahçe, gave 30 million EURO to UEFA,as a,so-called, sponshorship payment ? Not UEFA,because of bribe, but FIFA should get the case.Under this circumstances, UEFA unfortunately, have lost its objectivity.
  • eser karaca, hungary, 18.12.2012 08:45:
    football has been polluted by a well organised football mob and acquited by the prime minister of Turkey by means of his foot soldiers. That is the simple summary of the match fixing story in Turkey

    and mr platini better think twice before he makes a touching speech about his ridiculous zero tolerance...

    for me mr. platini's zero tolerance does not means more than a garbage. he has proved his value and price...
  • Ozgur Artun, Istanbul, 18.12.2012 08:44:
    I am a huge fan of Fenerbahce. Until the club is free of this president and his monarchy i will never watch a single football game again. Imagine all the excitement the fans get during the games. now they all turned out to be fake. match-fixing of any kind is horrible and UEFA is sort of bribed to stay silent. I thought at first that they would do everything in their power to punish those involved after all its just a Turkish team but apparently prime minister talked them into doing just the opposite. If it was by the way an English team thats involved UEFA wouldnt even dare to investigate it. Dont ever rely on UEFA. They are there to make money .thats all
  • anıl trabzon, Turkey, 18.12.2012 08:43:
    Thanks for your interest.is matchfixing legal in turkey? What hsppened to zero tolerance?is zero just ame of cocacola?
  • Seda Sakin, Turkey, 18.12.2012 08:42:
    Match Fixing Fenerbahçe
  • Oguz Baysal, Turkey, 18.12.2012 08:42:
    We just want Clean Football and Justice...Platini says;"zero tolerance for dirty football"...Is that one word or two faced???
  • Serkan KILIC, Turkey Ankara, 18.12.2012 08:38:
    Turkish Football Federation respects matchfixers. They have sentenced Fenerbahce officers because of the matchfixing activities but they did not sentenced Fenerbahce club. Their reason was that the matchfixing did not reflect to the pitch:). UEFA is a like sleeping beauty and does not take action to the matchfixing events. They give Fenerbahce permission to play in the CL and UEFA league. UEFA respects matchfixers too. There are rumours that Fenerbahçe ex-officer's bank Yapı Kredi has sponsored Champions League for 30 million dollars to cover up this matchfixing events. What a coincidence!!!!
  • Kerim Demirtürk, Duisburg/ Germany, 17.12.2012 08:37:
    Is Match fixing legal in tukey?
    I think mr. Platini is the biggest Match fixer.
    I'm a Fan from Trabzonsor.
    Bize heryer Trabzon
  • onur meral, Turkey, 17.12.2012 08:36:
    thanks for your interest. this is just a fair football request. turkish football is in dinginess and we -lovers of the game- have to stop this. turkey is aware of the match-fixing but nobody objects because of the government, they have the power and we are suspicious about their justice. this is the fight of all football lover or we will loose the game, fair game. money can buy everything ??
  • Halit Murat Mollasalihoğlu, Turkey, 17.12.2012 08:35:
    We hope that we may play the game again as fair as good old days... Thank you for supporting.

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