Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil ... and It Will All Disappear: The Biggest Corruption Scandal in Turkish Football's History

Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil ... and It Will All Disappear: The Biggest Corruption Scandal in Turkish Football's History

Article excerpt

I. Introduction

"[Sport] brings out the noblest human qualities (good sportsmanship, the quest for excellence, a sense of community), and the basest (chicanery and mob violence)". (1) Unfortunately, since 2011, Turkish football has been dealing with the basest. Throughout the investigation started by Turkish police in the summer of 2011, over 90 individuals, including football players, trainers, club managers and club presidents, were arrested/interrogated and most of them stood trial. They were suspected of different crimes such as match fixing, bribery, incentive premium, establishing/participating to a criminal organization, extortion and threat.

The importance of the affair relies mostly within the involvement of the three major sports clubs taking part in the Turkish premier football league namely Trabzonspor SK, Besiktas JK and Fenerbahce SK. As a result of investigations and proceedings before the Criminal Court, which rendered its decision (2) on 2 July 2012 (3), Sadri Sener and Nevzat Sakar (4) have been acquitted, diminishing thereby doubts about Trabzonspor. With regards to Besiktas JK, it was proven that during the finale of the Ziraat Turkish Cup (5), Tayfur Havutcu (6), the manager of the club at date, offered money to two footballers (7) of the rival club (8) and promised to transfer them at the end of the season. All the individuals that took part in the process were found guilty by the Court. (9) It is important to underline that, Besiktas returned the Cup to Turkish Football Federation (TFF) immediately after the arrest of Tayfur Havutcu, without waiting for the decisions of the Criminal Court and TFF. Regarding Fenerbahce, league champion of the 2010-2011 season, the extent of participation in corruption revealed to be significantly important. It has been proven that match-fixing and offers of incentive premiums were made during 13 games of the season. Operations were led by Aziz Yildirim, the president of Fenerbahce, Ilhan Eksioglu and Sekip Mosturoglu, board members of the Club. It is important to note that according to the Criminal Court's decision, a criminal organization has been formed under the leadership of Aziz Yildirim. (10) Given the importance of the Club's involvement, this article mainly focuses on Fenerbahce SK.

As it can be deducted, the affair has two major legal aspects: criminal law and sports law (disciplinary proceedings). This contribution aims to critically analyze the interesting sports law questions arising from the affair in the light of TFF's, and UEFA's regulations. However, reference will be frequently made to the Criminal Court's decision in order to establish the facts and to demonstrate the gravity of the situation.

II. Facts (11)

A. Affected games

2010-2011 season comprised thirty-four weeks. Match-fixing and incentive premium initiatives of the criminal organization led by Aziz Yildirim focused on the second half of the league. (12) Out of seventeen games that took place during the second half, thirteen were proven to be corrupted. (13) Seven of the games played by Fenerbahce were affected, namely Fenerbahce-Kasimpasa (26.02.2011), Genclerbirligi-Fenerbahce (07.03.2011), Eskisehirspor-Fenerbahce (09.04.2011), Fenerbahce-IBB Spor (01.05.2011), Karabukspor-Fenerbahce (08.05.2011), Fenerbahce-Ankaragucu (15.05.2011) and Sivasspor-Fenerbahce (22.05.2011). Incentive premiums were also offered by the criminal organization to the rivals of Trabzonspor and Bursaspor, closest teams to the championship. Six of the games were thereby affected, namely Manisaspor-Trabzonspor (21.02.2011), Bursaspor-IBB Spor (06.03.2011), Genclerbirligi-Trab-zonspor (20.03.2011), Trabzonspor-Bursaspor (17.04.2011), Eskisehirspor-Trabzonspor (22.04.2011) and Trabzonspor-IBB Spor (15.05.2011).

B. Benefits obtained by corruption

"Sport is now big business accounting more than 3% of world trade." (14) Sport constitutes an important source of income also in Turkey with a total value of 820 million dollars, which represents approximately 4% of the European Football industry. …

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