News / Europe

Amid Scandal, Turkish Soccer Seeks European Support

Fenerbahce Chairman Aziz Yildirim (top, 2nd L) is escorted by plainclothes police officers at the courthouse in Istanbul July 8, 2011
Fenerbahce Chairman Aziz Yildirim (top, 2nd L) is escorted by plainclothes police officers at the courthouse in Istanbul July 8, 2011

Turkish football (soccer) is in the grip of a major police investigation into match-fixing, with more than 60 people arrested in a scandal that has rocked the country. Turkish officials met with Europe's football governing body UEFA in Geneva.  

The soccer summit was called after Turkish football became mired in growing allegations of match-fixing. UEFA threatened to ban clubs found to be involved from future European competitions.

Turkish Football Federation Deputy President Lutfi Aribogan led the delegation to UEFA’s Swiss headquarters and emerged confident that Turkey has support from the governing body.

He said UEFA has full confidence in the Turkish Football Federation and they are in agreement with its approach to the situation.

UEFA has become increasingly concerned as senior officials from Turkey's leading clubs have been arrested in the police probe. The police have identified 19 of last season's matches they suspect of being fixed. Last week, Istanbul's Besiktas team returned the Turkish football cup.

Earlier, a player reportedly confessed to police that he played badly in the cup final in exchange for a race horse.

UEFA's biggest concern surrounds league champions Fenerbahce. The club’s chairman is currently in jail over allegations the club fixed numerous games to secure the title.

Veteran football journalist Esat Yilmaer of the Turkish Football Writers Association says authorities may have done enough to persuade UEFA not to expel the club from its premier competition, the Champions League.

"There is a lot question about this situation, and in this moment [the] football federation says we do not have enough material to punish the clubs," said Yilmaer. "And until the court gives a decision, we have to wait. Maybe it's right because nobody knows who is guilty or who is not guilty."

Any court case is expected to last two to three years. But pressure on UEFA to act against Turkish football can only grow, as the police investigation continues to widen.

Another club set to play in the Champion's League, Trabzonspor, is also under investigation, with senior officials arrested.  

The deepening scandal is gripping the country, according to columnist Asli Aydintasbas, of the Turkish daily Milliyet.

"It is more important than any political story we are talking about," said Aydintasbas. "It is the only subject people on the street are talking about. This country is insane about football.”

Last week, thousands of supporters of the Fenerbahce club protested outside their stadium. The demonstration turned violent, with some clashing with police when fans blocked one of Istanbul's main highways. Many of the supporters claim the investigation is a conspiracy against their club.  

But with many of Turkey's clubs run by wealthy and powerful businessmen, suspicions about match-fixing have dogged Turkish football for years.  With the police investigation targeting more clubs it is being widely perceived as even handed, and is enjoying strong public support.

As in a popular cafe frequented by football supporters who come to watch games on television.

FAN 1: "They have to clarify everything, if bad things happened they have to clarify. Because we have to know what happened. And of course the people who did these kind of things have to be punished."

FAN 2: "It will be better for everybody. If they go to the end of the investigation everything will be clear."

That hope appears well placed. More people are being brought before the courts as the scope of the police investigation widens.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs