Fenerbahce Threatened With Loss of Turkish Title Amid Match-Fix Probe

Fenerbahce, the Turkish soccer champion, led losses among publicly listed sports teams amid a match-fixing probe that’s threatening to strip the club of its 18th title, the most in the league’s history.

Aziz Yildirim, Fenerbahce chairman, returned today to the organized-crimes division at the Istanbul police department after a hospital visit, state-run Anatolia news agency said. He was taken into custody yesterday along with other executives, footballers, coaches, journalists and former officials.

A special prosecutor in Istanbul led the operations in Turkey’s biggest city and 14 other provinces, resulting in more than 50 detentions in an investigation into Fenerbahce and teams and players, Milliyet newspaper said. Fenerbahce Sportif Hizmetler Sanayi & Ticaret AS, which owns license rights to the sports team brand, dropped 13.75 liras, or 19 percent, to 57.5 liras ($36) in Istanbul, after the biggest decline since October 2008. It was followed by Besiktas and Trabzonspor.

“The pie is big and revenue from sponsorship deals are great, thus it’s conceivable that different methods were considered to reach the goal” of championship, said Hakan Sukur, first-time deputy elect from the governing Justice and Development Party and former national striker who won the UEFA Cup with Galatasaray in 2000. “Recently passed laws brought a new dimension to pursue investigations of match-fixing.”

‘Multiple’ Investigations

FIFA’s head of security Chris Eaton said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News that the arrests “would seem to be the result of cooperation with” an investigation in Germany, which last year unearthed a match-fixing gang that had Europe-wide reach.

“There are now multiple national police investigations targeting match-fixing across the globe,” Eaton said. “I will be interested to know for how long the information now being acted upon in Turkey has been known.”

Besiktas Futbol Yatirimlari Sanayi & Ticaret AS dropped 6.7 percent to 9.56 liras, while Trabzonspor Sportif Yatirim & Futbol Isletmeciligi Ticaret TAS, which isn’t under investigation, declined 7.6 percent to 16.50 liras. The benchmark ISE National 100 Index gained 922.22, or 1.5 percent, to 64,186.73 by the close in Istanbul, its highest since June 7.

Prosecutor Mehmet Berk wasn’t available for comment and Yildirim’s attorney Rezan Epozdemir said he couldn’t immediately comment. The Istanbul Police Department declined to comment.

“Everyone should know that Fenerbahce Sports Club has never been and will never be engaged in any unlawful and illegal activity,” the club said yesterday in a statement posted on its website. “We would like to stress our trust in our legal system once again, wishing that the truth will come on as soon as possible.”

Season Delayed?

Fenerbahce Sportif said today in a statement to the Istanbul Stock Exchange that the investigation doesn’t include its documents and records.

Officials are also investigating Kardemir Karabukspor SK, Besiktas JK, Altay SK of Izmir and Genclerbirligi SK of Ankara as part of the alleged match-fixing plot, according to Anatolia.

The beginning of the next football season might be delayed because of the investigations, Milliyet reported, citing a person from the police department. The top league is scheduled to resume Aug. 7, according to the Turkish Football Federation’s website.

“The judiciary has made a decision and carried out operations within its scope,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a one-time footballer, said yesterday in response to the bribery scandal. “Our hope is that there won’t be a troubling situation.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Emre Peker in Ankara at epeker2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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