Former Beşiktaş Chairman Yıldırım Demirören was elected the new president of the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) at Monday’s extraordinary general assembly in Ankara amidst a match-fixing scandal that plunged Turkish football into chaos last summer.
Demirören, who was the only candidate to run for the post after others had withdrawn their candidacies, garnered 221 out of 229 valid votes. Former TFF Vice President Ata Aksu, considered to be Demirören’s strongest rival in the elections, released a statement early on Monday, saying he withdrew his candidacy to avoid making things more complicated in Turkish football. Former President Mehmet Ali Aydınlar resigned from his post on Feb. 1 due to a crisis regarding the penalties and sanctions to be imposed on clubs and individuals implicated in the match-fixing scandal, a move complicating things even further in Turkish football.
Demirören pledged to work for the betterment of Turkish football after officially announcing his candidacy for the TFF presidency last week. “My only aim is for us to come out of this chaos unscathed, without hurting anyone or upsetting any person or team,” Demirören said. “We embarked on this mission with the idea of a new federation and a new administration that will work hand-in-hand with [Europe’s governing football body] UEFA to find a solution to this issue through dialogue. May God help us all,” he added.
Fenerbahçe remains at the center of the allegations. The İstanbul-based team became the first club to be punished since the scandal broke out on July 3. Defending champion Fenerbahçe was barred from the Champions League and runner-up in the Turkish league last season Trabzonspor was chosen to take part in the million-dollar competition. Hearings of the court case into the match-fixing allegations started this month. On Friday, during the eighth hearing, Judge Mehmet Ekinci released seven jailed suspects and ruled that the other 16 suspects, including the highest profile figure, Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım, who completed his defense on Thursday, are to remain in jail.
At Monday’s meeting, Demirören said Turkish football has come to the point of it being impossible to watch, and underscored that the fans and sponsors are losing interest in Turkish football. The federation has to take action to win them back, the new TFF president said. Demirören is the 41st president of the TFF.
Turkish football giants Galatasaray and Bursaspor did not vote for Demirören in the elections. Galatasaray, initially opposed to the candidacy of Demirören, later indicated that the club would support Demirören. While not naming Demirören, Galatasaray Chairman Ünal Aysal before Monday’s voting said that his club will support whoever shall save Turkish football’s future. However, the club’s delegates did not vote for Demirören. Galatasaray delegates were present in the hall of a hotel in Ankara where Demirören addressed the participants but left without casting their votes.
Bursaspor Chairman İbrahim Yazıcı told reporters before the meeting that even though he and seven other delegates eligible to vote came to Ankara for the elections, they would return to Bursa upon learning Demirören was running as the only candidate. Yazıcı said they would have supported Aksu had he remained a candidate.
Demirören will reform the supervisory council of the TFF while the Ethics Committee, the Legal Committee, the Board of Arbitration and the Professional Football Discipline Committee (PFDK) shall remain the same. Demirören stepped down from his post last week as Beşiktaş’s chairman in order to run for the TFF presidency.