Top officials arrested in Turkey match-fixing probe

Denis Charlet
AFP News

Turkish police have arrested around 40 people, including the president of top side Fenerbahce as part of an ongoing investigation into match-fixing last season, the Anatolia news agency reported on Sunday.

Aziz Yildirim was taken into custody early Sunday along with the club's vice-president Sekip Mosturoglu and financial chief Tamar Yelkovan.

Two Fenerbahce players -- Nigerian striker Emmanuel Emenike and forward Sezer Öztürk -- were also detained

Other top flight clubs were involved in the corruption swoop including Trabzonspor in the northeast, but the club's vice-president Nevzat Sakar denied that he had been arrested as reported earlier by Anatolia.

Several footballers were also among those arrested in Ankara including Gençlerbirligi striker Serkan Calik and Ankaragücü goalkeeper Serdar Kulbilge, both Turkish international players.

The agency also said that a police search was under way at the headquarters of Fenerbahçe, the reigning champions of Turkey, who also reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2008.

Arrests linked to the investigation also took place in the central town of Sivas where the president of Sivasspor, Mecnun Odyakmaz was taken in for questioning and at Izmir in the west where the cousin of Fenerbahçe midfielder Emre Belözoglu was being held, Mersin and Giresun.

Fenerbahce board chairman Yuksel Gunay slammed the detention of Yildirim, a building construction businessman who has been president of the club since 1998.

"It is quite clearly just the manifestation of a police state," he said. "Just which matches are they considering investigating?"

A statement from Fenerbahce said: "Never in the history of our club, which is full of honours won, have we been implicated in any illegal acts and we never will be.

Fenerbahce clinched the league title on the final day last season by defeating Sivasspor 4-3 in Trabzonspor.

The match-fixing investigation led to many arrests last year but this was the first time such high-level officials have been taken into custody.