25 Şubat 2014 Salı

Reality versus fiction in Turkish match fixing case

It would not be unfair to say; Turkish football is the murkiest of all organisations across the World after 3rd of July 2011 incident. It was always known and spoken that championships in Turkey were won as a result of match fixing activities and some other illegal organisations, but were never proved solidly as it was done since 3rd of July 2011.

Since that day  a lot of things were said, a lot of interventions occured and a lot of verdicts given nationally and internationally…

Since 03.07.2011 First Ethical Committee and  Proffessional Football Discipline Committee of Turkish Football Federation ( TFF ), Turkish Court, UEFA Disciplinary Body, UEFA Appeals Body, Court of Arbitration in Sport ( CAS ) and Turkish Supreme Court found Aziz Yıldırım and the members of his criminal organisation guilty of fixing several games during 2010-2011 Turkish football season.

The evidence were so solid and the case was so clear that even Fenerbahçe SK’s manager on board at the time made a confession on a press conference saying that; ‘ We got cought by a radar’…

This sentence alone tells the whole story as he was the person winning 16 games out of possible 17 for the second half of that season and managed to get a draw in the remaing one game miraculously!!!

He was not the only one confessing that, Fenerbahçe SK got involved in dirty arragements to win the tittle. Istabul BB’s player Ibrahim Akın also made a confession that he accepted $100,000.00 in return of promising not to score against Fenerbahçe SK. There are also voice records and pictures af this agreement, which later was shown in the court…

In the mean time TFF withdrawn Fenerbahçe SK from Champions League as result of UEFA’s letter sent to them on 23.08.2011 warning them if UEFA gets involved and investigate this matter and find that Fenerbahçe SK is involved in match fixing there might be further sanctions.

After this stage many murky incidents happened in Turkish football which were organised by Fenerbahçe SK and supported by politics, esspecially by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who also is a member of Fenerbahçe SK congress.

Here is the list of some of those mind blowing incidents aimed to protect Fenerbahçe SK and people involved in this scandal;

·         24.11.2011-First Political Intervention: Turkish Parliament changed Sports Law no 6222 “The Prevention of Violent Acts and Disorder in Sports” (referred to herein after as 6222) that came into effect on 14.04.2011 and reduced all sentences that penalises crimes in sport.
·         After resigning on 30.01.2012, Mehmet Ali Aydınlar, the former TFF President, made a confession on a live TV programme on 09.02.2012 by saying that he did not want to be the president who relegated Fenerbahce SK and that is why he postponed the decision and tried to find a way to save Fenerbahce that he is a member of. He added that he was so sure of Fenerbahce SK’s guiltiness that if they won the case at CAS, he would pay the 45 million euros Fenerbahçe SK was asking for.
·         27.02.2012 – New President elected for TFF: Turkish FF and the discipline bodies were changed as a result of resignation of Mehmet Ali Aydınlar (ex-president of TFF) and the board members. Yıldırım Demirören, the president of Besiktas Football Club (investigated in match fixing scandal), suprisedly became the new president. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Prime Minister, would like him to get the job.
·         17.03.2012 – Article 24 of Football Competition Regulation covering relegation penalties were amended in late hours of the day, so all possible punishments for match-fixing activities attached to the code no 58 only.
·         22.03.2012 – UEFA congress in Istanbul: Mr. Michel Platini told to press that it is not possible to seperate clubs from individuals on match fixing offences after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered him this suggestion. Erdoğan said “We must punish the individuals involved, the criminals, and not perhaps entire clubs or communities. We have to differentiate between the individual and the legal entity. When a legal entity is punished for crimes committed by individuals, it’s not only that legal entity that is punished; perhaps millions of fans and cities are punished.”

In another press conference Mr. Gianni Infantino told that referees being banned for life, not because they helped fix matches but because they accepted being contacted to help fix matches and added 58th article of Disciplinary Code is the UEFA’s must-have code and changing of this code by national federations can not be accepted and will not be allowed by UEFA.

·         29.03.2012 – The Prime Minister Erdoğan: “Not attending European Tournaments for 5 years would not change anything, if UEFA punishes Turkey for not relegating Fenerbahçe SK ”.
·         26.04.2012 - Fenerbahce SK withdrawn the case against TFF and UEFA at CAS.
·         30.04.2012 - TFF changed the Discipline Code 58: TFF changed the discipline code 58 as well as some other codes in order to prevent clubs from relegation despite UEFA’s warnings and the fact that clubs rejected this change at the last meeting. Also a new article no 105 has been added to the disciplinary which allows punishment to be postponed under specificc conditions.
·         30.04.2012 – Yıldırım Demirören claimed that match-fixing attempts were not “reflected in to the pitch”.
·         02.05.2012 – Second Ethical Committee report was revealed: Despite being established after political intervention, the second committee also found Fenerbahce SK officials guilty of match fixing in 3 matches. Two vice presidents of Fenerbahce (İlhan Ekşioğlu and Şekip Mosturoğlu) were found guilty along side players, agents, managers of various clubs.
·         07.05.2012 – PFDK (Professional Football Discipline Committee) announced the scandal decision: Despite barring Fenerbahce SK’s vice presidents, club members, some other team players (played against Fenerbahce SK) that Fenerbahce SK fixed matches with, PFDK invented a solution to prevent clubs from relegation; Match Fixing was not reflected in to the pitch. Officials and clubs were legally differentiated.
·         09.05.2012 – Political Intervention of Turkish Prime Minister: Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told during a press statement that he was beyond an ordinary supporter and he was a member of Fenerbahce SK congrees. He also repeated his idea of seperating clubs from individuals despite being rejected by Platini in March.
·         02.07.2012 – Court’s decision on match fixing case: The Judge (Mehmet Ekinci) announced his verdict on match fixing and found several people guilty from different clubs. Fenerbahce SK Chairman Aziz Yıldırım were sentenced to six years and three months in jail together with other officials from Istanbul-based football club including Şekip Mosturoğlu (Vice President of Fenerbahçe SK) to 3 years 1 month and 14 days and İlhan Ekşioğlu (Vice President of Fenerbahçe SK) to 4 years and 4 months. Yıldırım and his co-workers were blamed to manipulate several matches in the spring of 2010-11 season.
·         28.07.2012 Aziz Yıldırım ( President of Fenerbahce SK ) told on a press statement that, if he committed the match fixing crime he did it for Fenerbahce SK, not for himself.

·         15.11.2012 Match fixing offences of Fenerbahçe SK re-certified by court. Fenerbahçe SK vice presidents Mosturoğlu and Ekşioğlu, Fenerbahçe SK officials Ali Kıratlı, Tamer Yelkovan and former Giresunspor chairman Olgun Peker were found guilty of threatening, bribery or being a member of an illegal organisation, but their sentences were delayed on the condition that they will not not commit a similar crime in five years upon their legal request.  ( THIS ALONEIS A PROOF OF ACCEPTANCE OF INVOLVEMENT IN MATCH FIXING BY FENERBAHÇE SK’S VICE PRESIDENTS )

·         22.06.2013 UEFA Disciplinary Body found Fenerbahçe SK and Beşiktaş JK guilty of match fixing

·         15.07.2013 UEFA Appeals Body found Fenerbahçe SK and Beşiktaş JK guilty of match fixing
·         28.08.2013 CAS found Fenerbahçe SK and Beşiktaş JK guilty of match fixing
·         17.01.2014 The Turkish Supreme Criminal Court of Appeal upheld a match fixing sentence for Fenerbahçe SK chairman Aziz Yıldırım alongside vice-presidents İlhan Ekşioğlu and Şekip Mosturoğlu. Some other board members of Fenerbahçe SK, Beşiktaş JK and Sivasspor were also sentenced 

Before finalising this article with some questions waiting to be answered and need to be addressed, which will also prove that Aziz Yıldırım has been deceiving public with fictional stories I would like to remind you some rules and regulations;

According to the Turkish Football Federation Status Article 2/f ;
Turkish Football Federation has to obey the verdicts of UEFA and FIFA and make sure all parties, such as; clubs, players, managers, etc, obey these verdicts too

According to the Turkish Football Federation Disciplinary Code 55/1(b) ;
Teams, whose board members are involved in match fixing or bribery, must be relegated to a lower division

According to the UEFA Statutes (Edition 2012) ;
Article 7:

(1) [Fair Play, Statutes, Laws of the Game]:
Member Associations shall have the following obligations:
a) to observe the principles of loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship in accordance with the principles of fair play;
Member Associations shall include these obligations in their statutes, as well as a provision that leagues, clubs, players and officials shall observe these obligations.

According to the FIFA Disciplinary Code 70 / 2 ;
The judicial bodies of FIFA reserve the right to sanction serious infringements of the statutory objectives of FIFA (cf. final part of art. 2) if associations, confederations and other sports organisations fail to prosecute serious infringements or fail to prosecute in compliance with the fundamental principles of law.

Here are some questions need to be addressed;

1)      Why does Aziz Yıldırım keep changing his mind on who made a political operation on him?

First it was AKP and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but just last week Aziz Yıldırım placed adverts on papers thanking Prime Minister for saving him…
Then it was the head of Gulen Cemaat, but within last week Aziz Yıldırım declared on TV that this case did not have anything to do with Mr. Gulen either…

So, it is not true to claim that Fenerbahçe SK and Aziz Yıldırım are victims of a power contest between Prime Minister and Fetullah Gulen as Aziz Yıldırım peronally cleared them both on TV.

This scenario was often used by Fenerbahçe SK fans to defend their clubs, but if you look in to Fenerbahçe SK’s board of management you can easily see that; all members are either related with AKP ( government ) or Cemaat directly.

If this is Government’s or Cemaat’s operation on Aziz Yıldırım and Fenerbahçe SK, their own board members are part of this operation too…

2)      Fenerbahçe SK said in a staments that thay published : ‘ We would like to declare to the global public opinion; the only truth lying before Turkey in the aftermath of this operation which now lacks any sence of legitimacy is that, the right to fair trial, in accordance with the European Convention of Human Rights and the judgements and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, is a must for all Turkey, and in particuşlar, Fenerbahçe Sports Club’

The whole court proceeding of match fixing case is recorded on video and it can be seen that none of Fenerbahçe SK officials raised an objection to any on the evidence. All photos and voice records were admited to be theirs…

So, why does Aziz Yıldırım claim that the jurisdiction was not fair after the Supreme Court’s decision, where he did not raise any objection during the trials?

And also Turkish Court was not the only place Aziz Yıldırım and Fenerbahçe SK were put on trial. They were also judged by UEFA and CAS too…

So does that mean UEFA and CAS are part of political operation made on Fenerbahçe too?

If that is the case, Why did not Fenerbahçe SK take CAS’ verdict to Swiss Federal Courts, claiming that the trial was not fair?

Saying all these, as football fans; we are not interested in court side of the story. All we care about is being able to watch fair games in Turkey and authorities make sure ‘Zero Tolerance’ is applied to individuals and the teams involved in match fixing scandal.

It is confusing for all fans ‘why there is clear protection of Fenerbahçe SK, who were proven to be match fixer’

Even though rules and regulations of TFF, UEFA and FIFA are clear that teams involved in match fixing must be relegated and the individuals involved in the same crime must be banned from sporting activities, neither Fenerbahçe SK and other teams are relegated, nor the individuals are banned.

In past Olympique de Marseille, Juventus FC, Pobeda FC and O. Valou were relegated to lower divisions for the same offence, but 3rd year running since 03.07.011 Fenerbahçe SK is still competing in a league where they are not supposed to be, despite all declarations made by Gianni Infantino and Michel Platini during the progress of the case.

This raises the question whether UEFA and FIFA are bending the rules as TFF did to prevent Fenerbahçe SK from relegation too.

If so; should we relate this with UniCredit’s sudden (!) sponsorhip UEFA on May 2012 which was worth tens of millions of dollars… More important than that, it is not hard to discover links between UniCredit and Yapı Kredi Bankası which is collectively owned by UniCredit and Turkish oligarch Koç family. A member of Koç family, namely Ali Koç, used to be the member of Fenerbahçe board of directors at the 2010-2011 (the season which was corrupted with match-fixing) and 2011-2012 seasons. Ali Koç had been one of the most powerful supports of Aziz Yıldırım (president of Fenerbahçe) even after Aziz Yıldırım was sentenced to imprisonment by the Court.

Aziz Yıldırım’s fictional stories to defend himself can be believable for some who has not been following this case closely, but for us they all are part of his plan to save himself from going back to prison after Supreme Court’s verdict by using public pressure on parliament to bring another law in to force.

To sum it up;

A criminal organisation, which was led by Aziz Yıldırım, was found guilty of fixing several matches during the second half of 2010-2011 Turkish football season at all trials held against them. During the process, politicians and TFF tried to protect Fenerbahçe SK and Aziz Yıldırım by changing law and disciplinary procedures, but even that was not enough to save the as the evidences were so clear.

There is only one thing left to be done by UEFA and FIFA and that is to make sure TFF will relegate all teams involved in match fixing with no further delay. Unless this is done, no teams can be punished in future for match fixing offence and this will kill the soul of this game…

It is time for UEFA and FIFA to prove that when they say ‘Zero Tolerance to match fixing’ they really mean that and ‘Fair Play’ is not a ‘Fairytale’ for Turkish football…

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