Teams from the İstanbul Police Department's organized crime bureau searched the home of Yıldırım around 7 a.m. and subsequently detained him. Apart from Yıldırım's home, the Fenerbahçe sports club's headquarters, Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium and several locations in Antalya were also searched, news reports said.
Police were reportedly investigating alleged match-fixing in the Spor Toto Super League, which ended in May with Fenerbahce's victory, and Bank Asya League 1. According to initial reports, Yıldırım stands accused of establishing an organized criminal group, match fixing and bribery.
Fenerbahçe Deputy Chairman Şekip Mosturoğlu, Giresunspor Chairman Ömer Ülkü, former Diyarbakırspor Chairman Abdurrahman Yakut, Eskişehirspor coach Bülent Uygun, Adanaspor coach Levent Eriş, and soccer players Ümit Karan, Serkan Çalık, Serdar Kulbilge, Mehmet Yıldız, Korcan Çelikay and Sezer Öztürk were reportedly among the detainees. The Anatolia news agency said Nigeria International Emmanuel Emenike, who was recently transferred from Karabükspor to Fenerbahçe in a deal worth $9 million, was also detained.
Yüksel Günay, a Fenerbahçe official, reacted angrily to Yıldırım's detention. "This is ugly," Anatolia quoted Günay as saying. "I have no qualms in saying that this is a police state. This is ugly. What match-fixing are they looking for?"
Some of the offices of Trabzonspor, Beşiktaş, Sivasspor and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) were also searched as part of the investigation. The private Cihan news agency said three former TFF administrators were among the detainees. Cihan said police were also planning to detain İhsan Ekşioğlu, a member of the Fenerbahçe sport club's executive committee, but failed to find him in his house or office.
Police were investigating possible fixing of a final week match between Fenerbahçe and Sivasspor, which ended in a 4-3 victory for the İstanbul side and helped it claim the league title, as well as a match against Eskişehirspor. Sivasspor goalkeeper Korcan Çelikay was also detained in Sunday's operation. Sivasspor coach Rıza Çalımbay commented on the investigation and said he has no suspicion about Çelikay and noted that he hopes he was detained just for testimony.
The detainees were brought to the İstanbul Police Department for interrogation. It was not immediately clear if the detainees were arrested or set free after an interrogation by the time Today's Zaman went to print.
When asked about the detentions on Sunday, as he was to depart for a visit to Poland, State Minister for Sports Faruk Nafiz Özak said he learned about the operation from television news and hopes it is concluded in a way that befits Turkey. "I just learned about the operation from TV and it would be wrong to further comment about something that I do not know," he noted.
A statement released by the Fenerbahçe administration expressed hope that the investigation will be completed in a speedy manner, and the facts behind the searches and detentions be made public. “Everybody should know very well that our club, whose history is filled with pride and glory, has never been engaged in unlawfulness, and will never be,” the statement read.
Yıldırım's lawyer Rezzan Epözdemir said his client was being held in police custody, and declined to provide detailed information about the content of the investigation in order not to ruin the confidentiality of the investigation. “He [Yıldırım] is sorry. He has no doubts about himself or his friends. He said such a thing [his involvement in match fixing] is not possible. He has diabetes and he asked me to take his pills to him. He is in police custody now.” Sivasspor coach Rıza Çalımbay spoke to reporters about the detention of Çelikay, the club's goalkeeper, and expressed confidence in the goalkeeper. “I believe that he has been detained only for interrogation. I hope he will be with us in a few days,” said the coach. Trabzonspor Deputy Chairman Nevzat Şakar declined to comment on the detentions.
The TFF also released a statement, and said officials from the federation are closely following the police operation and the detentions. “Security forces launched an investigation regarding Turkish football at around 7 a.m. today. The investigation has a broad context, and is being closely followed by the federation. The TFF will release an explanation once it has sound information on the investigation,” the statement said.
According to Youth and Sports General Director Yunus Akgül, the investigation comes as a result of a careful follow-up of match fixing allegations. “This shows that everything is being monitored. Nothing is kept hidden [from the judiciary.] I hope the investigation into the people under detention shows that they are innocent. May no harm be done to Turkish sports. I hope everything will be done with the least possible damage. Soccer is the sport of the century; everybody says it,” Akgül noted.
Sunday's max fixing operation is not the first of its kind in Turkey. Earlier this year, a similar operation was carried out and the Professional Football Disciplinary Committee (PFDK) established that match fixing was involved in 18 professional soccer games in the Turkish leagues between 2008 and 2010. As a result, penalties were imposed on dozens of individuals, including former Turkish national team football player Fatih Akyel. The discipline board permanently suspended 11 people from all football activities.