Justice minister calls for common sense in rigging debate

May 08, 2012, Tuesday/ 15:43:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has called for sensitivity and common sense in attempts to solve a match-fixing controversy that began with an investigation into rigging allegations last summer.

Ergin said the unprecedented match-fixing scandal is unpleasant, and from football clubs to the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), Turkey's football institutions are uncomfortable about the controversy, the Anatolia news agency reported on Tuesday. “The image of Turkish football has been damaged both domestically and internationally. Therefore I believe this process must be managed with sensitivity and common sense,” he said.

Ergin's remarks came amidst a newly emerged debate following a TFF decision not to punish any clubs due to their suspected involvement in match-fixing activities, but to impose sanctions on 10 individuals regarding the matter.

A specially authorized public prosecutor launched the initial match-fixing investigation on July 3, 2011. A total of 93 suspects were tried in the case and dozens remain behind bars, including Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım. The TFF's Professional Football Discipline Committee (PFDK) concluded its own investigation into the issue and unveiled their penalties on Monday. The court case is still continuing.

Meanwhile the TFF will send the debated PFDK rulings to European football's top authority, UEFA, of which the federation is also a member. TFF board member Mete Düren told the Anatolia news agency that UEFA had requested to see the results of the TFF investigation.

Turkey's sports personalities have lashed out at the federation's decision, which suggested that no match-fixing occurred, in contrast to what was said in the prosecutor's indictment. Former Turkish national team player Hakan Şükür told Today's Zaman that the decision was made behind closed doors and that the faith of people in football institutions has steadily been decreasing since the scandal broke out. Former PFDK member Remzi Kazmaz said the recent decision has started the chaos all over again and added that the ruling seems “unethical.”

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