Yıldırım announces his candidacy for Fenerbahçe chairmanship
Fenerbahce Chairman Aziz Yıldırım is escorted by plainclothes police officers at a courthouse in İstanbul in this July 8 file photo. (Photo: AA)
Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım, who has been behind bars as a suspect in a match-fixing trial since July 3, 2011, announced on Tuesday that he will run for chairmanship of the presidency during the extraordinary congress to be held on May 19-20.
Sport commentators have drawn attention to the fact that Yıldırım announced his decision right after Turkish Football Federation (TFF) head Yıldırım Demirören stated on Monday that the match-fixing alleged to have taken place during the previous season did not affect what happened on the pitch.
Demirören also said the TFF had changed Article 58 of the federation's disciplinary regulations. Article 58 was amended to include point deduction as a possible penalty for match-rigging as opposed to the previous version of the article, which only allowed for the relegation of a team involved in match-fixing.
Yıldırım also passed a message on to Fenerbahçe fans through his lawyer. He praised and thanked the team's fans for showing their support for him while he was behind bars pending trial.
He also noted that no one will be successful in breaking down his historic club, and added: “Today is not a day to say, ‘We're Fenerbahçe supporters,' but to a day to say, ‘We're Fenerbahçe.' I send my regards and wish a happy May Day to all workers.”
Yıldırım, who has been Fenerbahçe chairman for the past 12 years, faces six serious charges of fraud, four charges of match-fixing and three charges of incentive payment, or bribing the opposing team. Prosecutors have also accused Yıldırım of establishing and running a criminal organization to generate illegal profits. Prosecutor Mehmet Berk, who is spearheading the investigation, has asked the court to sentence Yıldırım to 59-132 years in prison for the felonies.