2011 Turkish sports corruption scandal

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The 2011 Turkish Sports corruption scandal was an investigation about match fixing, incentive premium, bribery, establishing a criminal organization, organized crime, extortion, threat, and intimidation in Turkey's top two association football divisions, the Süper Lig and First League, and the Turkish Basketball League. On 2 July 2012, a Turkish special-authorized state court sentenced the chairman of the Turkish club Fenerbahçe S.K., Aziz Yıldırım, to six years and three months for match-fixing and forming an illegal organisation, but released him on bail pending an appeal. On 17 January 2014, his sentence was affirmed by the court of appeals.[1] However, on 6 March 2014, special-authorized courts was abolished in Turkey. On 7 June 2014; Abdullah Mirza Coskun, who is the newly assigned prosecutor of the match-fixing scandal, demanded a retrial from the 13th High Criminal Court (which is the newly assigned court for the match-fixing scandal) for Aziz Yıldırım. On 23 June 2014, this demand was accepted by the courts meaning that all the convicted people will have a retrial.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

Timeline of the Investigation

In the summer of 2011, Turkish police began an investigation into 19 football matches suspected of being fixed, and by 10 July 61 individuals had been arrested, including club managers and Turkish national players. 26 of these would later have requests for release refused by the court.[11][12][13] By 12 July UEFA had confirmed they were monitoring the situation.

Around the same time, Istanbul BB player İbrahim Akın admitted to participating in match fixing, specifically relating to two matches: Istanbul’s match against Fenerbahçe, and the Turkish Cup final against Beşiktaş JK.[14] Beşiktaş president Yıldırım Demirören later returned the Turkish Cup following match-fixing allegations levelled at his own club.[15] Following his arrest Akın withdrew his confession, claiming he had been tricked and his confession given under duress, and denied any involvement in the alleged corruption.[16]

On 20 July the prosecutor submitted all the documents and video evidence regarding the investigation to TFF Ethics Committee, consisting of some 12,000 pages of documenation.[17] The scandal took an even more sinister turn when Chris Eaton, Chairman of the FIFA Security Committee, claimed that links to organised crime networks had surfaced during collaborations with the Turkish police on the investigation.[18][19]

The investigation continued with the questioning of Fenerbahçe Official Murat Özaydınlı, Fenerbahçe Administrative Manager Hasan Çetinkaya, İBB Spor player Can Arat and former referee and ex-Gençlerbirliği official Zafer Önder İpek.[20] Another round of questioning followed, with Fenerbahçe player Emre Belözoğlu, former Beşiktaş lawyer and journalist Sinan Engin, Ankaragücü player Kaan Söylemezgiller, manager Ekrem Okumuş and journalist Tahir Kum all interviewed.[21] Dozens more would ultimately be questioned in the course of the investigation.[22]

On 15 August, The Report of the TFF's Ethics Committee,[23] presented to the general assembly of the TFF. The First Report of the TFF's Ethics Committee (340 pages) completely hidden from public scrutiny and FIFA and UEFA. But, summary section of the report (38 pages) leaked to the press.[24] Prof.Dr.Oguz Atalay, chairman of the committee, confirmed that document published in the press is the actual document.[25]

The TFF, under pressure from UEFA[26] (who had sent the Chief Inspector of the Disciplinary Committee Pierre Cornu to oversee the investigation),[27][28][29][30] eventually banned Fenerbahçe from participating in the 2011-12 Champions League, with UEFA announcing that Trabzonspor would replace them.[31]Nihat Özdemir, Fenerbahçe’s deputy-president later resigned as a result.[32]

In September, former Karabükspor president Feridun Tankut and former Rizespor player Koray Avcı were both questioned, either as suspects or witnesses, as part of the investigation.[33] The TFF also reversed a previous decision not to act until the investigation was concluded, deciding that they would rule on the recipient of the 2010-2011 title as soon as possible.[34]

Many members of the European football community voiced their concerns about the situation, with UEFA president Michel Platini saying how the match-fixing scandals had “badly tarnished the game” and that the developments were “not good for Turkish football”.[35][36][37] FIFA president Sepp Blatter also had his say, stating "We cannot intervene at the first stage; we must let the jurisdictional organization of the different states [take action], and when these people are condemned and found guilty, then we will suspend them for life. ... Then they will never come back to football –- being officials or being players, they will be banned for life".[38][39] UEFA Chief Executive Gianni Infantino stated "In these uncertain times we must take care to protect our game. Threats from outside the game, including illegal betting and match-fixing, are a cause for real concern. We have seen major incidents in domestic leagues in Turkey, Greece and Italy, where matches remain under investigation. And UEFA is working hard behind the scenes to help rid the game of these threats. We are constantly monitoring all European domestic top league matches, as well as all UEFA matches, for any signs of unusual betting patterns, and to reiterate the warnings made earlier this season, I would like to remind you all that UEFA has a zero tolerance policy towards any involvement in illegal betting or irregular activities connected to our matches. Armed with new, tougher disciplinary regulations, we will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute any individual or any club that is caught. It is important that we face this threat to our game together and act quickly and decisively in order to deal with the issue."[40]

On 9 December 2011 match-fixing indictment was accepted by the Turkish special authorized-court.[41] On 28 December 2011, The Turkish Football Federation scheduled a date for discussing an article in the disciplinary code and the relegation ban will be removed by the General Convention. In addition, there will be point deductions and monetary penalties for match-fixing instead of relegation.[42] However, Galatasaray SK,[43] Trabzonspor,[44] Bursaspor,[45] Orduspor[46] reacted the TFF' s declaration, announced that they do not support TFF' s decision regarding the reduction of punishments of match-fixing and after that Galatasaray SK[47] and Trabzonspor[48] were sent to Professional Football Disciplinary Board by TFF.

On 16 January 2012 Galatasaray SK sent an official legal warning to the Turkish Football Federation and urged them that "If Galatasaray is not qualified for the European competition next season due to a UEFA ban after the TFF decision regarding the removing relegation penalty, the Federation will be responsible for it."[49][50][51] Nevertheless, the Turkish Football Federation stated that "Every decision we have made was in line with the international laws, as well as the UEFA and FIFA codes" after the meeting on 16 January 2012.[52]

On 26 January 2012 General Convention of Turkish Football Federation, which consists of Turkish clubs, rejected a federation proposal to spare clubs from possible relegation over a match-fixing scandal.[53]

On 30 January 2012 Jérôme Valcke who is the General Secretary of the international football federation (FIFA), sent a fax to the Turkish Football Federation to get information about the match-fixing scandal.[54][55]

On 31 January 2012 President of the Turkish Football Federation Mehmet Ali Aydınlar (previous sponsor of Fenerbahçe's voleyball team) Vice Presidents of TFF Göksel Gümüşdağ (chairman of İstanbul BB) and Lütfü Arıboğan (who is now a Galatasaray board member) resigned from all duties.[56]

On 30 April 2012 Turkish Football Federation changed the article 58 of disciplinary regulations regarding the penalization of match-fixing to save the teams which has been charged of match-fixing before the end of season.[57][58][59][60] In response to the TFF' s decision, Trabzonspor announced that they will make a meeting with the UEFA as soon as possible.[61] Galatasaray SK reacted against the TFF' s decision and made a statement regarding the issue.[62] Bursaspor also reacted against the decision.[63] [64] On the same day, Turkish Football Federation added a new article to the disciplinary regulations that all punishments including relegation, point-deduction can be postponed, Article 105.[65]

On 3 May 2012 Galatasaray SK applied to the TFF Arbitration Board to suspend and annul the decision regarding the amendment on the Article 58 and Article 105 of disciplinary regulations of TFF.[66][67]

On 4 May 2012 Trabzonspor and Bursaspor also applied to the TFF Arbitration Board to suspend and annul the decision regarding the amendment on the Article 58 and Article 105 of disciplinary regulations of TFF.[68][69][70]

On 5 May 2012 Turkish Football Federation Arbitration Board, rejected the appeals and the objections from the clubs.[71]

On 5 May 2012 The 16th Specially Authorized High Criminal Court of Istanbul asked for the Turkish Football Federation Ethical Council's report regarding the match-fixing case. The court rejected the requests for the release of 9 defendants including Fenerbahçe SK Chairman Aziz Yıldırım except Tamer Yelkovan.[72]

On 7 May 2012 Turkish Football Federation has given a verdict for the people involved with thr case:

The federation banned İbrahim Akın of İstanbul Buyukşehir Belediyesi SK for three years for allegedly fixing the result of a match when his team lost to Fenerbahçe SK 2-0 on 1 May 2011. It also banned Serdar Kulbilge of Gençlerbirliği for two years for allegedly attempting to fix the result of a match that Fenerbahçe SK won 4-2.[73][74]

It said eight other people, including Fenerbahçe SK officials Mehmet Şekip Mosturoğlu, İlhan Yüksel Ekşioğlu, Cemil Turhan and Yavuz Ağırgöl received with a disciplinary measure called "depravation of rights" which amounts to barring a person from any administrative or sports activities, including entering the stadiums. However, this disciplinary measure can be postponed according to the new article 105 which has been designed by Turkish Football Federation recently.[75][76] [77][78]

On 1 June 2012 Specially authorized İstanbul Public Prosecutor Ufuk Ermertcan demanded from the İstanbul 16th High Criminal Court to hand down jail sentences for Aziz Yıldırım and other suspects as part of an investigation into match-fixing scandal. The İstanbul 16th High Criminal Court rejected lawyers’ request to release Fenerbahçe SK President Aziz Yıldırım, Olgun Peker, Fenerbahçe official İlhan Ekşioğlu and Yusuf Turanlı. The court also ruled to release Ahmet Çelebi, Ali Kıratlı, Haldun Şenman, Sami Dinç and İbrahim Bülent İşcen, who were in custody, pending trial. The court hearings will be resumed on 26 June[79][80]

On 4 June 2012 the Arbitration Board of Turkish Football Federation reduced the penalties for three suspects in a match-fixing scandal while upholding the sentences of other suspects. The arbitration board reduced Akın’s sentence from three years to two years and Kulbilge’s sentence was reduced from two years to three matches. Karan was given two years deprivation of rights by the PFDK, but the Arbitration Board changed his sentence into a two-year ban from participating in future games.[81]

On 22 June 2012 UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body made a decision: "- To allow the Diciplinary Inspector and Fenerbahce to file additional submissions to the Control and Diciplinary Body - For the time being the club of Fenerbahce is allowed to participate in the UEFA competition for which it is eligible pending a final decision of the UEFA Diciplinary Body in this regard. "[82]

On 24 June 2012 UEFA declared that "In particular, the final reasoned decisions of the Turkish Football Association Board of Appeals have only just been received and neither the Disciplinary Inspector nor the Control and Disciplinary Body have had the opportunity to review these in detail. 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."[83]

On 2 July 2012 Turkish court convicted and sentenced Fenerbahçe President Aziz Yıldırım to 6 years and 3 months in prison on match-fixing charges. Fenerbahçe Vice President Şekip Mosturoğlu was sentenced to 1 year 10 months and 10 days in prison and the other Vice President of Fenerbahçe was sentenced to 1 year and 2 months in prison.[84][85][86][87][88]

On 20 July 2012 UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said "the status of Fenerbahçe — which finished second in May to qualify for this season's competition — could still change. UEFA disciplinary inspectors are studying files including Turkish Football Federation decisions which cleared the club's entry. He also said Turkish court decision is very important. It's a complicated case and our disciplinary bodies are going through the procedure, It's a big dossier. It's literally thousands of pages of work. 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.[89][90][91][92]

On 22 July 2012 FIFA officially requested information about the match-fixing scandal from Turkish Football Federation and started its own investigation regarding the case which is based on 16th High Criminal Turkish court decision. FIFA also requested the documents of this case from the UEFA.[93][94]

On 10 August 2012, İstanbul 16th High Criminal Court announced its reasoned decision regarding the match-fixing case.[95][96]

Events after the Investigation

On 28 August 2012, Yusuf Reha Alp, a member of the Professional Football Disciplinary Board(PFDK) resigned from all duties.[97][98]

On 25 June 2013, UEFA banned Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş from European competitions over match-fixing allegations. Fenerbahçe was banned for a total of two seasons for which they qualify for either the Champions League or Europa League, with the ban for the third campaign deferred for a probationary period of five years, while Beşiktaş will miss next season’s Europa League. Both clubs are to appeal against a UEFA decision to bar the two clubs from European competitions on match-fixing accusations.[99] 5th Civil Court of First Instance temporarily suspended three Fenerbahçe officials, including chairman Aziz Yıldırım.[100]

On 15 July 2013, UEFA Appeals Body declared that "Besiktas have had their appeal rejected. Consequently, Besiktas are not eligible to participate in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League. Fenerbahce have had their appeal partially admitted. Consequently, Fenerbahce are excluded from participating in the next two UEFA club competitions they qualify for, including the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League." [101]

On 18 July 2013, CAS announced that the final decision on Fenerbahce will be issued before 28 August and a final decision on Besiktas on 30 August. [102]

On 24 July 2013, Supreme Court of Appeals Prosecutor's Office demanded upholding of verdicts in match-fixing trial.[103]

On 28 August 2013, The Court of Arbitration for Sports decided to reject the Fenerbahçe SK's appeal against their suspension from European competition and Fenerbahçe was banned from European competitions for two years after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) opted to uphold the club's punishment for their involvement in match fixing in Turkey.[104]

On 30 August 2013, The Court of Arbitration for Sports decided to reject the Beşiktaş JK's appeal against their suspension from European competition and Beşiktaş was banned from European competitions for one year after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) opted to uphold the club's punishment for their involvement in match fixing in Turkey.[105]

On 17 January 2014 Republic of Turkey Supreme Court approved decisions on match fixing crime.[106][107]

On 30 January 2014, UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body asked the decision of the Supreme Court from Turkish Football Federation to evaluate the latest situation.[108][109]

On 31 January 2014, Trabzonspor FC filed an application before UEFA and FIFA. In the application, Trabzonspor FC urged UEFA and FIFA organs: to directly intervene in Turkish Football League and to sanction the clubs as well as the individuals liable with match-fixing actions committed in 2010-2011 season of Turkish Football League and to take all necessary steps so as Trabzonspor FC is registered and declared as the champion of Turkish Super League in 2010-2011 season.[110][111]

On 5 February 2014, Fenerbahçe SK applied to Republic of Turkey supreme court for the cancellation of acquittals of Sadri Şener (who was Trabzonspor's president when this investigation began), Nevzat Şakar (who was Trabzonspor's vice-president when this investigation began), Zeki Mazlum (who was a board member of Trabzonspor when this investigation began), football agent Mithat Halis and Sani Şener (who was under investigation with the other stated people) on the grounds that Fenerbahçe's appeal was not scrutinized enough. Lawyers of Fenerbahce SK also stated that the above said people are guilty as charged of giving incentive bonus to the opponents of Fenerbahçe.[112][113]

On 6 March 2014, special authorized courts were abolished in Turkey.[114]

On 26 March 2014, Gianni Infantino stated that UEFA gave his final verdict about Fenerbahce and Besiktas reminding that both clubs has been already punished by UEFA meaning that no further punishment will be given to the clubs. Also, after being asked about Trabzonspor's presidents earlier statements about UEFA's dealings he also added "Ibrahim Hacıosmanoglu is Trabzonspor's president not UEFA's [115]

On 21 May 2014, UEFA launched an investigation against Sivasspor and Eskişehirspor and and heard the cases on June 2 and 3. On 6 June 2014 it was declared that Eskişehirspor and Sivasspor are not eligible to participate in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League. Both Sivasspor and Eskişehirspor's officals announced that they will appeal to CAS to change the result of this case.[116][117][118]

On 29 May 2014, Mutlu Ekizoğlu, the chief constable of this investigation (Also many others like Ergenekon trials and Sledgehammer (coup plan)), was suspended from duty pending investigation.[119]

On 27 May 2014, Fenerbahce SK appealed to the Swiss domestic courts, on the grounds of; "The final verdict is against the public order" which is one of the situations that must happen if the accused wants to appeal to the UEFA's and CAS' final verdict. With this appeal Fenerbahce SK is working to lift the "Ban from the European Competions for 2 years".[120]

On 30 May 2014, UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body launched a new investigation against Turkish Football Federation and will decide about the case on July 17. A document has been sent to Turkish Football Federation about the corruption scandal because of Trabzonspor's official complaint about the 2010-2011 season. Fenerbahce SK is also on this document as "parts directly affected".[121][122][123]

On 23 June 2014, an earlier retrail demand was accepted by the courts meaning that all the convicted people will have a retrial.[124][125][126][127]

After Fenerbahce's offical complaint, on 27 June 2014, UEFA Control and Disciplinary Board launched a new investigation against Trabzonspor and will decide about the case on July 17. UEFA asked for Trabzonspor's defense about this investigation. Fenerbahce's offical complaint is based on then-Sivasspor player Mehmet Yıldız's notery approved, detailed statements about an offer of incentive premium from Trabzonspor for Sivasspor-Fenerbahce game.[128][129][130]

On 7 July 2014, CAS rejected the appeals of Eskişehirspor and Sivasspor meaning that both clubs are not allowed to participate in any European competition for a year.[131]

On 15 July 2014, Trabzonspor has made an offical objection to the 13th Istanbul High Criminal court about the accepted retrial demand.[132]

On 18 July 2014, UEFA Control and Disciplinary board assigned an inspector to the cases of both the Turkish Football Federation (offical complaint by Trabzonspor) and Trabzonspor (offical complaint by Fenerbahce).[133]

Football clubs involved

Turkish Football Federation's punishments

Due to the new disciplinary regulations which was designed by the new Turkish Football Federation that includes the changing in the article 58 of disciplinary regulations and adding the new article 105, no club has been punished. The punishments were postponed. [149]

Fenerbahçe SK
İstanbul Büyük Şehir Belediyesi SK
  • İbrahim Akın - Istanbul BB Player was banned for 3 years from any role in football. (Fenerbahçe- İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor — Match-fixing)[153]
  • Ahmet Çelebi - Sivasspor board member was banned for 2 years from any role in football. (Fenerbahçe- İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor — Match-fixing)[154]
Eskişehir SK
  • Ümit Karan - Former Eskişehirspor Director of Football was banned for 2 years from any role in football.(Eskişehirspor-Trabzonspor match — Attempting to match-fixing.)[155]
Gençlerbirliği SK
  • Serdar Kulbilge - Former Gençlerbirliği Goalkeeper was banned for 2 years from any role in football.(Gençlerbirliği-Fenerbahçe match — Attempting to match-fixing.)[156]
  • Cengiz Demirel - Former Gençlerbirliği Assistant Coach was banned for 1 year from any role in football.(Gençlerbirliği-Fenerbahçe match — Attempting to match-fixing.)[157]
  • Mehmet Şen - Former Ankaraspor Manager was banned for 1 year from any role in football. (Gençlerbirliği-Fenerbahçe match — Attempting to match-fixing.)[158]
Affected Matches
Fenerbahçe SK-Ankaragücü
6-0 (match-fixing)
Fenerbahçe SK-İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi SK
2-0 (match-fixing)
Sivasspor-Fenerbahçe SK
2-4 (match-fixing)
Eskişehirspor-Trabzonspor
0-0 (incentive premium from Fenerbahçe Officials to Eskişehirspor)

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