Fenerbahce fans showing their support for Aziz Yildirim, the club president
Aziz Yildirim, Fenerbahce’s president and the most prominent name amongst the 93 arrested on charges of match fixing finally had his day in court this week. At least 19 first and second division matches in the Turkish Lig are said to be fixed. The scandal hit Fenerbahce, Turkey’s most storied club the hardest with 13 including Yildirim arrested.
Turkey’s Football Federation also banned the club from taking part in the CL, giving Trabzanspor, the runners up that distinction. Yildirim has been characterized by the prosecution as “being a gang leader ” facing charges ranging from match-fixing to paying bribes.
Yildirim maintained his innocence bombastically stating he would jump of a bridge if he was found guilty of any of the charges. He also threatened to reveal secrets that would shake Turkey. Sounds very much like Jack Warner when he threatened to reveal FIFA’s dirty little secrets after he was found to have arranged the Mohamed Bin Hamman money for votes presidential scandal.
Everyone in Turkey is watching this court case. It has President Abdullah Gul doing a delicate dance initially advocating a tough line if the suspects were found guilty and then softening his stance to come more in line with the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who fears a public backlash if seen as meddling in an institution as sacred as soccer in a country that is synonymous with passion when it comes to that sport.
Proof required? The courthouse is ringed with Fenerbahce fans pleading with the police to take them in and set “Aziz free”.
So if Yildirim is found guilty, does he supersede Luciano “Lucky” Moggi, as match fixer par excellence?