Turkey elects head amid match-fixing storm

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) elected Besiktas' Yildirim Demiroren as its new chairman on Monday, setting him the task of quickly resolving a match-fixing crisis which has engulfed Turkey's domestic league this season.

Demiroren, the chairman of Istanbul club Besiktas, was elected by 221 out of 229 delegates who voted at the TFF meeting less than a month after previous chairman Mehmet Ali Aydinlar resigned in frustration at his failure to draw a line under the affair.

An Istanbul court is currently trying 93 defendants, including the chairman of champions Fenerbahce Aziz Yildirim, on charges of rigging more than a dozen matches.

"We will establish dialogue with UEFA and seek paths to emerge from this difficult situation," Demiroren told delegates in a speech ahead of his election at the meeting in Ankara.

"We want to face them spotlessly clean at the meeting on March 22 and finish this business off," said Demiroren, whose own club Besiktas is named in the indictment.

Sanctions against clubs involved could include relegation. However media reports suggest the federation could instead alter its regulations so that only points are deducted, despite clubs previously rejecting such a plan.

UEFA is scheduled to hold its annual congress in Istanbul on March 22, bringing together its 53 member associations. Ahead of the congress, UEFA's executive committee will meet in the city on March 20-21.

The Istanbul court handling the match-fixing case released seven defendants from custody on Friday evening, but Fenerbahce's Yildirim remained in prison along with 15 other suspects.

The remaining accused are not in custody pending trial. The next hearing is on March 26.

The allegations emerged at the start of 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.

Alongside Fenerbahce and Sivasspor, the indictment also names Besiktas and Trabzonspor. Fourteen players are among the defendants.

Fenerbahce's Yildirim, who is accused of being a gang leader, has denied the match-fixing charges, saying the allegations against him were specifically designed to undermine the 18-times domestic champions.

Fenerbahce were barred from the Champions League because of their alleged involvement in the scandal.

Possible sanctions against it could include being stripped of their domestic title, thrown out of Turkey's top league and forced to play in a lower one, penalties that could cost the club millions.


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