Yıldırım faces possible six-month ban for challenging referees
Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım could find himself in hot water if claims that he threatened the referees of the Fenerbahçe-Bursaspor match in the dressing room on Saturday are proven true. (Photo: Today's Zaman, Mahmut Burak Bürkük)
Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım is likely to get a three to six-month deprivation of rights accorded to the head of a football club due to threatening remarks he made to the referees of Sunday's Fenerbahçe-Bursaspor league match in the stadium corridors leading to the locker rooms.
Turkish media outlets reported after the game that Yıldırım ran out of patience when referee Tolga Özkalfa did not stop the game after Fenerbahçe's Semih Şentürk was tackled by a Bursaspor player in the final seconds of the first half, when the score was tied at 1-1. He later headed to the locker rooms and challenged Özkalfa and the assistant referees. According to the reports of Turkish Football Federation (TFF) observers, Yıldırım talked about wrong refereeing decisions from past games and said: “Enough is enough. Someone, whoever it is, should take care of you. I don't know if this will be the [Turkish Football] Federation. Otherwise, I won't forgive you.”
According to TFF disciplinary regulations, if Yıldırım receives a ban, he will be barred from watching Fenerbahçe games in the stadium and from making statements as the Fenerbahçe chairman.
Article 39 of the disciplinary regulations stipulates that a club manager can get a ban of between 90 and 180 days if a manager insults a referee in the corridors leading to the locker rooms. If a manager displays unsportsmanlike behavior, then he can receive a 45 to 90-day ban. The ban is greater if a manager behaves like this inside the referees' locker room.
In media reports, it has also been argued that Yıldırım might be punished in accordance with Article 36, which envisages a 15 to 45-day ban for unsportsmanlike behavior.
Bursaspor General Manager Süha Sidal was furious after the game, saying Yıldırım openly menaced the referees. “I don't care about the [Turkish Football] Federation. I'll punish you all myself. I'll finish your refereeing,” Sidal quoted Yıldırım as saying to the referees in his remarks to reporters following the match. Fenerbahçe immediately denied this with an official statement.
The TFF observers' report does not suggest that Yıldırım told the referees that he would end their careers. Sidal, too, might be stripped off his rights as a general manager because of his post-match statements against Yıldırım.
The TFF's Professional Football Discipline Board (PFDK) will meet on Thursday to discuss the penalties.
Fenerbahçe ended up winning the match on Sunday 4-1 on home turf to tie points with second-placed Beşiktaş.
Yıldırım had been held in prison for a year from July 2011 to July 2012 due to a massive match-fixing scandal. An İstanbul court sentenced Yıldırım to six years, three months for establishing and managing a criminal organization and for rigging several football matches. If the Supreme Court of Appeals upholds the verdict, Yıldırım will be sent back to prison.