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Important TFF extraordinary general meeting started and… went into break

Göksel Gümüşdağ (L), Lütfi Arıboğan (C) and Mehmet Ali Aydınlar (R) at the start of TFF Grand Meeting convened to decide on match fixing penalties
Göksel Gümüşdağ (L), Lütfi Arıboğan (C) and Mehmet Ali Aydınlar (R) at the start of TFF Grand Meeting convened to decide on match fixing penalties

Pushed to its limits amidst match fixing scandal Turkish Football Federation (TFF) has convened to decide on match-fixing penalties for clubs involved in match-fixing allegations.

Göksel Gümüşdağ (L), Lütfi Arıboğan (C) and Mehmet Ali Aydınlar (R) (Photo: AA)

Ankara / NationalTurk – The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) began its critical meeting on Thursday to decide on whether to amend regulations on penalties for teams involved in match-fixing.

The TFF extraordinary general meeting started with the opening speech from TFF head Mehmet Ali Aydinlar and then unexpectedly went into a 1 hour break. TFF President announced the 1 hour break right at the end of his speech and urged members in the court to vote for it. After a short ‘voting’session where members hesitated to vote for or against the 1 hour break, Mehmet Ali ASydinlar decided to call the 1 hour break.

This contoversial decision to pause after the 5th minute of a general meeting, for which the TFF had been preparing for months is slammed bt Turkish Football society and is widely regarded as a last minute attempt to lobby more. As if proving it, Fenerbahce fans gathered outside the meeting building and two presidents of Super League sides, Manisaspor and Orduspor are reported to be involved in fighting.

Hours before the important and decisive meeting, jailed Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım, suspect #1 in match-fixing trial, whose team is at the center of a massive match-fixing investigation that rocked Turkish football, called for no change to regulations regarding the 58th article of TFF disciplinary regulations which state that teams involved in match-fixing could face relegation, while TFF Chairman Mehmet Ali Aydınlar highlighted the huge pressure the federation faces because of the investigation.

“This initiative will remain a black stain on the history of Turkish football,” Yıldırım said.

The proposed amendment discussed by the TFF will reportedly be a one-time measure and Article 58 of the federation’s disciplinary regulations, which regulates penalties, including relagation for the teams even sligtly involved in match fixing activities will remain unchanged.

Fenerbahce Vice President Nihat Özdemir said in an opening speech Fenerbahçe was against point reduction because it is “as clean as at least the other teams” and called on the TFF to issue a call for state prosecutors to investigate instances of match fixing in Turkish football since 1959, when the Turkish national league was first formed.

Reports in the Turkish sports media earlier said Fenerbahçe was lobbying other teams and the TFF to introduce penalties other than relegation, but Fenerbahçe Vice Chairman denied such reports last week, saying the İstanbul team wanted the relegation penalty to remain provided that the teams facing such a penalty are given the right to defend themselves in the face of accusations.

In addition to Fenerbahçe, two other heavyweights of the Turkish Super League, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor, are also implicated in the match-fixing case.

Speaking soon after Yıldırım’s statement at the opening of the TFF meeting, TFF Chairman Mehmet Ali Aydınlar highlighted the challenge the match-fixing investigation poses to the federation and requested support, not more pressure.

“Seven months ago, I and 14 friends of mine were elected to lead the TFF. Ninety hours later, we faced the match-fixing probe. We were caught unprepared,” Aydınlar said in his speech. “We are facing the biggest crisis in history and it is impossible for the TFF to resolve it on its own.”

He said the TFF has worked with the best of intentions since the investigation first got under way in July with a wave of detentions and insisted that the TFF is an impartial organization that strives to maintain an equal distance from all parties.

“We are not responsible for this. We expect support, not pressure,” he said. Aydınlar also said there are certain people who want to “deepen the chaos for petty interests,” but did not elaborate.

Aydınlar added that it was now time for the accused to present their defense, following which the TFF’s Ethics Board will complete a report about the match-fixing allegations. “We will not let anyone’s rights be violated as long as we remain in charge,” he said.

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