By the TFF, he was referring to the Turkish Football Federation. “The TFFT” was ironically meant to be the “Turkish Football Federation Theater.”
Nothing else could describe more eloquently the latest developments. The TFF’s Ethics Committee, after its deliberations and having submitted its findings over the massive investigation into match-rigging (which developed into a trial with 93 suspects) only managed to make matters more complicated and blurred than they already are. It only pushed Turkey’s troubled and corrupt football closer to the abyss by creating a muddle.
A simple look at the TFF findings make it clear that a bundle of irrational conclusions (given that they are not the results of collective, shrewd acts to get away with unlawful and unethical behavior in the eyes of Turkey and UEFA) cannot possibly be accepted by a rational mind.
At the time of writing, nobody other than a limited number of people at the TFF knew of the entire contents of the ethics committee’s report. It was not, despite calls from the media, posted on the TFF’s website. Thus, the subject has been open to wide and wild speculation on what Yıldırım Demirören, the TFF’s relatively new chairperson, has told (and not told) the public.
At the outset, it seems that Article 58 of the TFF’s disciplinary regulations, set down in order to stop match-fixing, has been changed. Although the report said it “found no evidence of match-fixing in the arenas,” a total of 16 clubs and 22 matches are now being referred to the Professional Football Discipline Committee (PFDK), for involvement on an individual basis. The findings strictly contradict two earlier points: Some months ago the ethics committee (that consisted of other people) had indeed found “evidence of match-fixing” and attempts last January to change Article 58 were rejected by the General Board of the TFF. The “new” TFF now seems to have breached its “jurisdiction” to do so, by not assembling the General Board to get its approval.
The parts of the findings made public are already a jungle. The decent, honest and critical parts of the sports media agree on one point: It will be impossible to “punish” any club for match-rigging or encouraging it. Even the deduction of points as a punitive measure can be done arbitrarily.
Another point is why Galatasaray, which was not at all implicated in the legal probe, is now listed as a match-fixing “suspect.” No wonder that both that club and Trabzonspor are now up in arms against the TFF for attempting to legalize match-fixing by blending in clubs that had nothing to do with it.
Certainly, the most immediate question asked is: Why on earth were we left with this huge legal investigation and trial on match-fixing if it was all as the TFF has said, namely, that there was no evidence?
The question, justifiably, exposes an idiocy. What things have come to, with the possible interference from politics at the highest level at the most recent stages, is that all the work by the police force, prosecutors and judges so far has been declared, as it were, meaningless. The trial has been forcibly turned into a farce by one of the defendants, Aziz Yıldırım, the chairman of Fenerbahçe, in visible contempt of the court, shouting to the bench, “How dare you try me?” before he (despite being under arrest) walks out of the courtroom. The courts face being made irrelevant now, and also in the future.
It is now all a farce, believes my colleague at the Taraf daily, Mehmet Baransu, who follows the events in meticulous detail. “They [the TFF] will close the chapter only by issuing fines,” he claims. Baransu refers in his article yesterday to an anonymous source from the ethics committee, who says: “Yıldırım Demirören said the report contains neither the ‘attempt’ nor ‘suspicion’ (of match-rigging) but this is not true. If read, our report mentions clearly both elements. If Demirören is sure of himself, he should post the entire report on the website. It will then be clear that he lied at the press conference. Why are Demirören and his team afraid of posting it on the Internet?”
The latest events only strengthen the suspicion that the TFF, by changing its top echelons in a cunning maneuver in February, is intensely trying to hide the dirt. Will it succeed in sticking with the culture of “getting away with it”? Maybe, if it can complicate the procedures into a huge mess. It may now be expected that Yıldırım and others will be released from prison. Fenerbahçe, which withdrew its lawsuit at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the TFF and UEFA, seems “prepared” for further suspension from European leagues. And, by dragging its feet, the TFF will wait until the very end of this season, after the play-offs, to reduce points (if it ever does).
None of this farce is surprising. There remains only one issue before the dust settles:
What will UEFA do? We will find out soon enough.
This case is all about morals and ethics. In the end, Turkey may lose.