“Leave aside this match-fixing business. We have been detained because of fraud, not match-fixing,” he told reporters during a short recess in the hearing of the case in Silivri, outside of İstanbul, explaining that Law No. 6222, under which he and other suspects are being tried, concern crimes that go well beyond match-fixing. “If this was about match-fixing, other teams would also have been here,” he said. Yıldırım is the highest-profile suspect in the case, which got under way with a wave of detentions in July. He is one of 23 suspects detained pending trial in a case in which a total of 93 suspects face charges of rigging 19 first and second-division games. Senior officials from Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor are also implicated, but none of them have been detained.
Yıldırım also said that last season’s Trabzonspor-Galatasaray and Trabzonspor-Beşiktaş games should be investigated, suggesting that the three teams were involved in rigging those games to prevent Fenerbahçe from winning the championship.
Yıldırım will begin testifying to the court on Tuesday. The trial began two weeks after the resignation of Turkish Football Federation (TFF) President Mehmet Ali Aydınlar and his two deputies over the TFF’s failure to agree on how to punish clubs caught up in the scandal.
On Thursday, Turkey’s Sports Minister Suat Kılıç met with officials from football giants Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş to discuss the situation of the federation, which will elect a new president on Feb. 27. Beşiktaş Chairman Yıldırım Demirören, Fenerbahçe Deputy Chairman Nihat Özdemir and Galatasaray Chairman Ünal Aysal offered their opinions to the minister regarding the TFF presidential election. Reportedly they all suggested that former TFF President Şenes Erzik, currently vice president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), run for the post. Later on Thursday, Kılıç met with Erzik, who reportedly looked favorably on the suggestion and said he would do his part.