Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
On Tuesday 28 April, a Turkish court ruled that it would hear evidence from former Turkish football federation (TFF) officials in the retrial of 35 defendants accused of match-fixing, according to local reports. The defendants include the Chairman of the top-tier football club Fenerbahçe, Aziz Yildirim (pictured), who in 2012 was convicted after a match-fixing investigation, but whose sentence was suspended last year pending retrial.
The TFF withdrew the club from the 2011/12 Champions League after a police investigation into match-fixing. ‘Bearing in mind the sanctions that might be faced by our country, Fenerbahçe has been ruled ineligible to compete in this season’s UEFA Champions League’, read a 23 August 2011 TFF statement. On 2 July 2012, a Turkish court sentenced Yildirim to six years and three months in prison on match-fixing charges. Yildirim served one and a half years in prison – in 2013, an İstanbul court released him pending retrial.
According to Reuters, in June 2013 the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court ordered a retrial of the match-fixing case, but rejected the demand to drop the case entirely because of Yildirim’s allegations of ‘forgery in documents used in the hearings’ and a ‘plot’ against him. The retrial began in January 2014 where, in a defence statement issued to the court and reported by local media, Yildirim claimed all evidence in the case was forged, denying the charges levelled at him.
In an interim decision on Tuesday, local media reported that the court ordered that TFF monitoring, referee and commissionaire reports on the matches that were allegedly fixed should be presented to the court. It was also understood to have determined that former TFF deputy Chairmen Lutfi Arıboğan, Göksel Gümüşdağ and former Turkey coach Abdullah Avc should be called as witnesses, and that an expert’s report was required to determine whether TFF is considered as a state institution, or an independent institution.
In 2013, UEFA banned Fenerbahçe from participating in the next three UEFA club competitions for which it would qualify, including the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League season. The decision was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in 2013, and an appeal by Fenerbahçe was dismissed by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in 2014.
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