ISTANBUL: In the latest sensational twist in the Turkish matchfixing scandal, the football federation has cleared all 16 teams under suspicion, including Fenerbahce, but has banned two players for up to three years and punished eight others players and club officials in a compromise set of disciplinary measures.
The federation said late Sunday “there was no reason” to punish any of the clubs, including Fenerbahce which had been barred from this season’s Champions League – on UEFA orders – as a result of the investigation.
Gaziantepspor midfielder Ibrahim Akin, who was with Buyuksehir Bld. Spor when accused, was banned for three years with Ankaragucu goalkeeper Serdar Kulbilge given a two-year ban.
The decision was taken while a criminal trial, involving 93 defendants including the chairman of champions Fenerbahce, was still underway.
Shares in Fenerbahce, Turkey’s richest club, surged 10 percent after the announcement on the TFF website early Monday, although its chairman Aziz Yildirim is currently in jail pending a verdict in the long-running, semi-secret court case.
Fenerbahce shares were also boosted by the Istanbul-based club’s improved chances of retaining the league title after Sunday’s matches.
The disciplinary board said there was no punishment for Yildirim himself, while three other Fenerbahce executives were banned from football for one to three years.
The outcome of the investigation will be closely analysed by European football’s ruling body UEFA amid previous expectations that clubs could face relegation or exclusion from Europe over the allegations.
Fenerbahce, who were barred from the Champions League this season due to its alleged involvement in the scandal, dropped a court case last week against UEFA and the TFF over its exclusion from the tournament.
Fenerbahce will host city rivals Galatasaray next Saturday in a match which will determine this year’s champions. Galatasaray are currently leaders in the league playoffs on 47 points, ahead of Fenerbahce on 46.
Ahead of the disciplinary board’s decision, the federation had softened the punishment for match-fixing, ruling that clubs caught unsuccessfully trying to fix matches would only face points’ deductions rather than relegation.
Clubs had previously voted against such a change in the regulations and Galatasaray, which was not named in the match-fixing indictment, had condemned the rule change and called for the resignation of the federation leadership.
A previous TFF chairman and his two deputies resigned in frustration in January over the federation’s failure to agree on how to punish clubs caught up in the scandal. Former Besiktas chairman Demiroren was elected as the TFF chairman in February.
The scandal erupted last July when police carried out raids against those accused of involvement in rigging 13 matches, including Fenerbahce’s 4-3 victory over Sivasspor which clinched the league championship on the final day of last season.
The indictment names eight clubs, including Fenerbahce, Besiktas and Trabzonspor. Fourteen players are among the defendants.
The TFF launched its own investigation, and 22 separate eague games in the top two divisions were referred to the disciplinary committee.
Fenerbahce’s Yildirim denies the charges against him and says the case was specifically designed to undermine the 18-times domestic champions.
The attempt to resolve the scandal will also be monitored closely within the Olympic movement since the Turkish National Olympic Committee is running Istanbul as a contender to host the summer Games in 2020.
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