The foiled July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, organized by members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), led by Fethullah Gülen, who has been living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since 1999, has its reflections in Turkish football. Fenerbahçe President Aziz Yıldırım alleged that the match-fixing-case in 2011 against him and Fenerbahçe was a Gülenist plot and cost the club nearly $500 million in share prices. Speaking Wednesday night on NTV, Yıldırım said, "We have started work to gain compensation for Fenerbahçe's huge losses because of the Gülenist plot."
Yıldırım and six others were acquitted last year on charges of match-fixing, two years after he and others were released from prison, after a year of detention and awaiting trial. The 64-year-old Fenerbahçe boss, who has presided over the club since 1998, was acquitted after new prosecutors replacing Gülen-linked prosecutors found that the charges against him were based on insufficient evidence. Yıldırım maintained his innocence throughout the trial, claiming that evidence, including wiretapped conversations allegedly revealing match-fixing deals, were fabricated.
The Fenerbahçe president said, "Before I was jailed in 2011, Fenerbahçe's market value was $1.1 billion. As of Aug. 10, it fell to $527 million. So we are starting work in order to regain Fenerbahçe's rights from the Turkish Football Federation (TFF). We will file for large claims for our financial losses." In 2011, Fenerbahçe were thrown out of the Champions League after the match-fixing allegations against the club although there had been no final judicial decision. The Yellow Canaries were replaced by their archrivals Trabzonspor, despite both clubs being engulfed by a match-fixing scandal that forced the postponement of the Turkish football season.
Fenerbahçe appealed their exclusion, saying in a statement that the UEFA's stance on the issue was unlawful. The Turkish club that had initially won automatic qualification for the Champions League as the winner of the Spor Toto Super League, had been demanding 45 million euros in compensation in lost prize money, match revenues and devalued stock after the team was barred from the competition due to match-fixing allegations. The club had taken legal action against both the UEFA and the Turkish federation, underlining the principle of "innocent until proven guilty." However, they dropped their case in 2012. Then, the newly elected TFF Chairman Yıldırım Demirören reportedly asked Fenerbahçe officials to withdraw the appeal. Fenerbahçe's decision came on the day the TFF's Ethics Committee was set to present its definitive report on the match-fixing case, which dropped the match-fixing allegations against Fenerbahçe.
Meanwhile, Yıldırım said that their archrivals Galatasaray must be interrogated for alleged FETÖ connections. Galatasaray's former footballers Hakan Şükür, Uğur Tütüneker and Arif Erdem are sought after due to their links to Gülen. Another former Galatasaray footballer İsmail Demiriz was arrested in the FETÖ investigations.
Yıldırım said, "What happened to Fenerbahçe in 2011, may happen to Galatasaray too. The alleged FETÖ links in Galatasaray must be investigated. They [FETÖ members] said they made Galatasaray the champion through prayer. We saw it on Twitter. Who are the footballers who were issued a warrant. All of them are Galatasaray's former footballers.
"My allegation is this: FETÖ plotted against Fenerbahçe. We have $227 million dollars. We will try to reinstate our financial losses and pay our debts with them. "FETÖ fiddled with me back in 1998 when I was elected president. A few months later some men from FETÖ's media organs visited me and asked for my help in cases against Fethullah Gülen. I said I did not know Gülen and would not be of help for him. That's why they wanted to arrest me and capture Fenerbahçe." Galatasaray harshly responded to Yıldırım's allegations saying, "We doubt the mental sanity of those who are trying to present Galatasaray as part of a terrorist organization because of a bunch of footballers who played in our club. Nobody has the right to slander Galatasaray to hide their sportive failures."