One of Turkish football's "Big Three," Fenerbahçe is going to choose its new president this weekend in what is being dubbed as one of the most important elections in the club's history.
Current Chairman Aziz Yıldırım has run the club with an iron fist since 1998. There has been little challenge to his reign over the last two decades - until now. Ali Koç, a successful businessman from one of Turkey's wealthiest families, has garnered strong support within the club.
The two candidates have fundamental differences on almost every topic and they represent two vastly different futures for Fenerbahçe. While Yıldırım offers more legal and political strength for Fenerbahçe, Ali Koç brings to the table the vision of a transparent and professional club that wants to be one of the best in the world.
Moving on, Koç might just be the right person to lead Fenerbahçe.
Under Yıldırım, Fenerbahçe has experienced many ups and downs. The president's battle with the jurisdiction, politicians and fans were always a part of that journey. But Yıldırım's key moment was the fixing scandal in 2011 - which he claims was a malicious plot against Fenerbahçe.
However, there have been other major political events in Turkey since 2011 and the fixing scandal is no longer the top agenda for the club. The case implicated Yıldırım and his fellow executives rather than Fenerbahçe itself, and the verdict is still out.
Thus, Aziz Yıldırım knows that being Fenerbahçe's president allows him to have more influence on the outcome of the fixing case - to the point he openly stated that he will leave his position as soon as the high court acquits him of all charges.
Now, amid such legal and political chaos, Fenerbahçe's growth as a club stagnated and it has lost one-third of its value since 2011.
Yıldırım's last seven years in office has been marked with conspiracy theories, disagreements with fans and financial instability. And yet, he did not address the club's serious financial problems or low attendance rates as important issues. In contrast, Yıldırım recently criticized Ali Koç for saying Fenerbahçe's economy was "collapsing." Yıldırım does not offer a structural plan for overcoming the financial issues but only promises to fight on for Fenerbahçe.
Ali Koç, on the other hand, states that Fenerbahçe needs more transparency and professionalism to cope with the financial issues. He offers to bring in top professionals to restructure the club's financial management, which he describes as too big to be controlled by one man.
In addition, Koç offers peace in the stands, pushing zero violence and no discrimination among fans as his top priorities. But most importantly, he wants to make the club a pioneer of social change in Turkey. He affirms that football and Fenerbahçe hold great importance in Turkey, and both must be used to generate social good.
Unlike Aziz Yıldırım, Ali Koç offers a precise, concrete plan to make Fenerbahçe one of the best sports clubs in the world which make him the right person to lead the club.
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