Gavin HamiltonTurkey’s match-fixing scandal gets more serious by the day. Earlier today, a Turkish court formally charged 15 more suspects, including senior Fenerbahce officials Sekip Mosturoglu and Ilhan Eksioglu.

Also charged were Bulent Uygun, technical director of Eskisehirspor and Mecnun Odyakmaz, president of Sivasspor, along with several players, including former Fenerbahce player Umit Karan.

The court also issued a warrant for Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim, who has been accused of bribing rival teams’ players to play badly. Yildirim is currently hospitalised with heart problems.

The scandal centres on recently-crowned champions Fenerbahce, who won the title on last day of the season on goal difference after closest rivals and season pacesetters Trabzonspor were held to a draw. Fenerbahce qualified directly for the group stages of the Champions League – and its associated riches.

Bribes of up to $300,000 were allegedly offered to rival teams, according to reports in Turkey.

Turkey is just the latest country to become embroiled in match-fixing scandal. The situation in Turkey is different to the cases in South Korea, Finland, Italy and others that we report in the latest issue of World Soccer.

Most of the other scandals, headed by events in Germany, where Croatian fixer Ante Sapina was recently jailed for his part in Europe’s biggest match-rigging scandal, are linked to Asian gambling gangs.

Here, the focus has been on low-key matches that pass under the radar. Bets have been placed during matches on specific events withing matches, such as penalties. Far eastern gangs have targeted poorly-paid players whose low wages make them susceptible to bribery.

The recent friendly between Nigeria and Argentina B, from which FIFA is investigating unusual betting patterns, is a case in point. Nigeria won the match comfortably but Argentina were awarded a highly controversial penalty late into injury time. The goal did not affect the result, but unusually high bets were placed on a late penalty for Argentina.

The footballing authorities, led by UEFA, are beginning to take these matters seriously. FIFA, though slow to follow UEFA’s lead, has started to work with Interpol in tackling Asian gambling rings. It is a criminal problem that requires governmental action on a global scale.

Turkey is an altogether different situation. The allegations centre on the climax of the recent Turkish league season. They concern high-profile matches, screened on prime-time TV, whose results appear to have been manipulated by senior figures within the Turkish game.

The situation in Turkey should concern everybody in football. For those in England who say it couldn’t happen here, think again.

  • rylstx

    Firstly, let me tell you that I’m a Galatasaray fan, who is living in Amsterdam, but is still holding a VIP season card of Galatasaray. This should tell you about my love and enthusiams towards football in general and Galatasaray in particular. However, after all these arrests and rumors in the footballing market in Turkey, I am so disgusted that I have no reason to pursue my love for football or Galatasaray. There’s simply no point. And I’m 100% sure that millions of other fans are feeling the same way. We all feel betrayed. We all feel that a hidden hand has been tempering with our love for the game.

    Currently, the president of Fenerbahce Aziz Yildirim (and he’s been a president for 13 years running) is in jail, together with his vice-president Sekip Mosturoglu (Responsible for Law & Institutional Relations, who is a lawyer by the way; how ironic), another board member Ilhan Eksioglu, club manager in charge of youth teams Cemil Turan (who happens to be Fenerbahce’s one of the most loved ex-captains in their hall of fame) and lastly club’s accounting manager. Naturally, these people are jailed for precautinary reasons, not because they’ve been tried already. However, the fact that they’re already in jail after 10 days of interrogation should give some sort of hint as to the things these people have done or tried to do.

    Now, what is so unbelievable is that Turkish Football Federation’s (TFF)President, who happens to be an ex-board member of Fenerbahce, is trying to protect Fenerbahce’s name to get tainted. Quite unbelievable. Right before stepping up to be the TFF President, Mehmet Ali Aydinlar was actually regarded as a natural heir to be the next Fenerbahce president after Aziz Yildirim. He was in the same managing board with Aziz Yildirim during the time when all this match fixing scandals was in full force. What’s more, TFF President’s own company, a chain of hospitals, is the biggest sponsor of Fenerbahce.

    Whatever I just mentioned above can be verified thru just a google search. They’re not speculations, just simple facts. Now, how naive one person should be to assume that TFF President would not try defending Fenerbahce and bail the club out? Last Monday evening I was matching TV, a popular sports programme, to which TFF President joined thru a phone call. During the programme he referred to Fenerbahce President as ‘my president’, as if he’s still in Fenerbahce’s board, working under Aziz Yildirim. What’s more, he mentioned twice that whatever the individuals might have gotten theirselves into should not be mixed up with the club’s reputation. So, simply put, TFF President says that Fenerbahce’s president, vice president, board member and actively working professional managers have tried to manipulate the system but they were acting on their own capacity, not binding the club. Hence, the club’s on field performance should not be judged based on their
    actions. Ooh how simple!!! So, if the club benefits from such actions and don’t get caught redhanded, no harm no foul. But if the club gets caught, it’s only individuals… Can you imagine what kind of Pandora’s box will open up due to such an interpretation of law? Plus, it’s a wrong interpretation as what the law says is clear; Official club members tempt to fix matches, then the club is relagated. What is there to interpret? Well, if you have intensions to bail a team out, then there’ll naturally be such interpretations. Especially, if TFF President has such ties to the related club in question.

    And now, TFF President says Fenerbahce can play in Champions League and that the Turkish Super League will start as scheduled in August 5, as if nothing has happened. So, we’ll start watching our teams play, assuming justice will somehow be served maybe in the future. Great. Looking forward to it. From here on, Turkish football is tainted and TFF has a major hand in it. If UEFA does not interfere, then it means we’ll have no hope. Any reasonably football fan will cut themselves loose off this ugly stage. If justice won’t be served, then what’s the point in letting our emotions be continously exploited?

    Such a shame, when Turkish football was on the brink of cleaning itself up. Obviously, cleaning is not wanted. Even though it seemed inevitable.

  • The Turk

    Shame. This scandal will be ignored in Turkey. Turks love soccer. Prime minister (ruler) of Turkey is a hardcore fan of the fixer team. He won’t let anything bad happen to his team. Sad thing is the money they used
    for bribingwas givin by the Turkish Futball Federation to Fenerbahce to
    improve their athletic department.They use that money to bribe. It is very sad for Turkish Futball.Over there people killing each other for soccer, whic mean they died for fixied
    We will be seeing how politics involve
    and controls soccer that part of the wolrd. I know Turks wont do much over this but i realy would like to see whot FIFA going to do over this.