‘Claims of Hizmet seizing control of FB groundless’

‘Claims of Hizmet seizing control of FB groundless’

Nihat Özdemir (Photo: Today's Zaman)

May 23, 2012, Wednesday/ 15:26:00

Prominent figures from the world of sports, the arts and business have slammed allegations suggesting that the Hizmet movement aims to seize control of Turkish football team Fenerbahçe amid the ongoing match-fixing saga that has been rocking the Turkish football scene since last July.

Since the start of the match-fixing investigation in July 2011 which led to the imprisonment of dozens of sports figures -- including Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım -- some circles have claimed that the Hizmet movement, led by renowned Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, is behind the investigation with the aim to eventually seize control of Fenerbahçe.

The allegations intensified when Fenerbahçe lost the title of champion to its rival Galatasaray on May 12 and Fenerbahçe fans were subsequently involved in acts of violence.

Former Fenerbahçe Chairman Ali Şen said no one would be able to make him believe that the Hizmet movement was trying to seize control of Fenerbahçe because there was no reason for them to. “All these allegations are empty talk. I think it is wrong to accuse them,” he said.

Fenerbahçe Vice President Nihat Özdemir noted that no one had the right to direct accusations at those who, in fact, prayed for Fenerbahçe's success. He said some provocateurs were manipulating the situation and called on Fenerbahçe fans to act with common sense.

Former Turkish referee Ahmet Çakar said he had followed the match-fixing probe with concern and felt it was unjust and dangerous to point a finger at the Hizmet movement for being behind the investigation. “Neither the military nor any institution or political party can control a football club even if they want to. Those who elect the administrators of football clubs are known to all,” he said.

Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) President Can Paker also said he found the allegations about the Hizmet movement groundless because he felt they would gain nothing from seizing control of Fenerbahçe. “I don't even think it is likely for the movement to make such an effort,” he noted.

Noted Turkish actor Halil Ergün said it was not appropriate to involve a global movement in such debates. He also voiced his disbelief at the allegations. “I just want to raise a question here. What will the Hizmet movement gain by seizing control of Fenerbahçe?” he asked.

According to the chairman of Rixos Hotels, Fettah Tamince, the ongoing debate about Fenerbahçe and the Hizmet movement is meaningless. “These speculations will bring no good to either Fenerbahçe or the society at large. For years we have been looked for a non-existent enemy in Turkey and now some circles are doing the same thing all over again,” Tamince said.

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