Turkey’s Minister For EU Affairs And Chief Negotiator, Egemen Bagis, admitted on Turkish TV Friday night that former TFF chairman Mehmet Ali Aydinlar knew what he was doing when TFF, with help from some UEFA officials, banned Fenerbahce from Champions League play in August 2011.
The admission also confirmed the involvement of the government that was long suspected of having a finger in the match-fixing investigation.
The investigation was handled by the Special Authority prosecutors and courts, which are considered to have become the long arm of the Turkish government that has imprisoned opposing voices, including elected Member of Parliament, civil leaders, writers and journalists, academicians, students, ethnic groups and military personnel among others. Special Authority Courts were finally abolished by the Parliament early July 2012.
There were other times when words, suggesting government finger in the ongoing events, popped out of Turkish politicians’ mouths. In January 2012, Turkish Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar’scomments that they were “subtly working” to deliver the Turkish league title to Trabzonspor drew the ire of Fenerbahçe club and supporters.
“If Trabzonspor is happy, the whole of Turkey is happy. If Trabzonspor develops, Turkey sends out a strong message,” he said at a ceremony in Trabzon in a reference to the 2011 Super League title won by Fenerbahçe,” and added, “Now we are subtly working to get Trabzonspor’s trophy. I hope we will bring the trophy that Trabzonspor deserves. I hope God will show us the day.”
The statements came amid Fenerbahçe fans’ claims that the ongoing match-fixing investigation, as part of which the club’s Chairman Aziz Yıldırım and three other members were jailed pending trial, was a political plot against the team.
The president of the Turkish Parliament (TBMM) at the time (May 2011) had alsowished a Trabzonspor championship ahead of the critical match between Fenerbahce and Karabukspor in his own district, Karabuk.
Fenerbahce eked out a 1-0 victory that week and stayed on top of the league table. Two weeks later, Trabzonspor cruised to a 4-0 win in the same city with thehome fans joining Trabzon fans in rooting in favor of Trabzonspor.
However, the Trabzon side - probably along with the government - ended the night in disappointment when Fenerbahce managed a nervous 4-3 road win against the tough Sivasspor and did not give up the title.
Listening to Egemen Bagis’ words on Friday night, there was realization that politics was indeed involved and the political game still on… The question is, “Is the UEFA in the picture cooperating with Turkish politics?”