More than 40 – 50 people were detained in Turkey earlier this week for connections to a football match-fixing scandal in which the investigation was originally launched by the Turkish Football Federation in August of 2009. The detained are accused of manipulation of matches and match fixing. The detainments were part of a six-month investigation by the Istanbul Police Department in cooperation with the Turkish Football Federation. The Istanbul Police Department also had appointed a senior officer to work with the Bochum Public Prosecutors Office and German authorities.
Detainees consisted of former and current players ranging from the Turkcell Super League and the Bank Asya First Division. Some of them include Arif Erdem, a former Galatasaray player and current assistant coach of Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor; former Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray player Fatih Akyel, Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor goalkeeper Kenan Hasagic, Konyaspor goalkeeper Recep Öztürk, Sivasspor player Erman Kılıç, and Kayserispor players Umut Koçin and Durmuş Bayram. Kayseri police have said that both Kayserispor players were sent to Istanbul and would testify as witnesses. Öztürk, who is the son-in-law of Gençlerbirliği chairman Ilhan Cavcav, is accused of betting 30,000 euros against his own team. That accusation is based off a match last May when Öztürk played for Gençlerbirliği against Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor, where Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor won 3-1 and avaided relegation from the Turkcell Super League.
As of the writing of this piece, Erdem, Hasagic, and Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor player Taner Gulleri have been released without facing trial. Akyel is facing trial along with fellow Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray player Ali Riza Gültekin. After being released Erdem told reporters that he provided all information asked of him by the prosecutors. He went on to mention that he was directly accused of match fixing and that he has no reason to abstain from testifying on this issue. Öztürk is still in custody.
The TFF has said in a written statement that the investigation was independent of the probe by the Bochum Public Prosecutors Office into this matter. They also said that their officials were sharing information with the German authorities.
It has been confirmed, through various sources, that the Turkish Football Federation has agreed in principle to hire Guus Hiddink as the head coach of the Turkish national team. Hiddink, who is still under contract with the Russian Football Federation until June, will sign a contract that will have him begin his duties as head coach on August 1, 2010. He succeeds Fatih Terim, who resigned the post in October after the loss in the World Cup 2010 qualifying campaign to Belgium. After meeting with Turkish Football Federation president Mahmut Özgener and TFF vice-president Lutfi Arıboğan in Amsterdam, a contract was agreed upon with the 63-year old. The contract is said to be a four year contract, guaranteeing that Hiddink will be the coach through at least the Euro 2012 tournament, with optional two more years. Hiddink’s assistants are to be former Fenerbahçe great Oğuz Çetin and former Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe goalkeeper Engin İpekoğlu. Read more…
A match fixing scandal reported a few days ago in Turkish newspapers rocked Turkish soccer and European soccer in general. There has been some action taken in order to alleviate the problem. Kayserispor, currently in fourth place in the Turkcell Super League, has suspended midfielder Bilal Aziz Özer from the team due to allegations that he and two other players, whom have not been named, attempted to manipulate a match this season against Eskişehirspor. The said match took place on October 4th of last year.
The Milliyet newspaper implicated Özer as one of the players listed in the report by the Bochum Public Prosecutors office. The report, which contains tapped phone conversations between Özer and one of the members of the match-fixing ring, disclosed that Özer and two other players would conspire to lose the match against Eskişehirspor. Kayserispor would win the match 1-0, and Özer and the two other teammates were threatened to make up for the loss or face consequences, which included death threats. The other two teammates were not identified by Özer when he had spoken to the match-fixer.
The Turkish Football Federation has now referred the case to the Professional Football Disciplinary Committee (PFDK) for investigation. The TFF Ethics board will be commissioned to investigate the claims. Özer could face up to a three year banishment from the sport if found guilty. The issue will be addressed on January 14th when the TFF Board of Directors will have a meeting to address the allegations against Özer.
On January 5th, national daily newspaper Milliyet broke the story that 19 soccer matches in Turkey have allegedly been fixed. English language daily Today’s Zaman also reported this story the following day. The 3,500 page report, prepared by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Bochum, Germany, was submitted to the Turkish Football Federation. The document implicated players, coaches, and administrators in the match fixing activities, encompassing all four divisions of Turkish professional football and calling the manipulation of matches a “casual thing” in the country. A soccer official in the country, preferring to remain anonymous, had disclosed to Milliyet that the report was based on 50,000 pages of phone conversation transcripts that:
“The games were so manipulated that large bets on low-stake games enabled people worldwide to earn money. It is estimated that the unlawful profits obtained through this ‘gang’s’ match-fixing could be as high as 50 million euros.”
Names mentioned in the report include former Galatasaray and national team star Arif Erdem, Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor goalkeeper Kenan Hasagic, Gençlerbirliği goalkeeper Recep Öztürk, and Gençlerbirliği club Chairman Ilhan Cavcav. One of the matches included in the match-fixing scheme was a match in May between Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor and Gençlerbirliği, in which the final score was 3-1 in favor of the Istanbul club. One bettor has verified that individuals who bet on the game learned what the score would be from both aforementioned goalkeepers. According to another bettor, both chairmen of the clubs in question reached a verbal agreement pertaining to the score so that the Istanbul based club would not drop to the Bank Asya 1st Division from the Turkcell Super League. Recep Öztürk is alleged to have bet on the match, making 30,000 Euros as a result of the fix. Also implicated is a match in the Antalya Cup between Antalyaspor and Trabzonspor, in which a bettor received information as to the score from Trabzonspor officials before the match was played.
The Turkish Football Federation has launched an investigation into the matter. The federation mentioned in a statement that “bringing the truth to light will be out priority”, and that they will send a delegation to Germany to investigate the matter. All of the people implicated by name have strongly condemned the report.