Prosecutor seeks jail for Fenerbahce chairman

ISTANBUL Fri Jul 8, 2011 6:51pm BST

Fenerbahce Chairman Aziz Yildirim (2nd R) is escorted by plainclothes police officers at the courthouse in Istanbul July 8, 2011. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Fenerbahce Chairman Aziz Yildirim (2nd R) is escorted by plainclothes police officers at the courthouse in Istanbul July 8, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Murad Sezer

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish prosecutor requested a court jail the chairman of league champions Fenerbahce pending trial on charges of match-fixing on Friday, TV reports said, in an investigation which could result in the club being stripped of its title.

The court was expected to rule on the request to imprison Aziz Yildirim later on Friday. If jailed, he will join 25 people already remanded in custody on charges of manipulation in 19 matches, which Turkey's prime minister said has stained Turkey's image.

Broadcaster CNN Turk said Yildirim was accused of both match-fixing and of running an illegal group.

Yildirim was one of 61 people detained in police raids launched across Turkey on Sunday. His questioning has been delayed by medical treatment related to heart problems.

Prosecutors called for him to be jailed after questioning him on Friday. In questioning at police headquarters on Thursday he exercised his right to silence, media reports said.

The Turkish Football Federation is expected to act soon in response to the allegations without waiting for the outcome of the judicial investigation.

Among possible sanctions against Fenerbahce are the loss of the championship title, exclusion from competitions, relegation to a lower division and potentially the loss of tens of millions of dollars in income. Any individuals convicted of match-fixing could face lengthy prison sentences.

SHARES PLUNGE

Shares in Fenerbahce, who won the league for a record 18th time last season, have lost a third of their value since news of the police raids emerged. Fenerbahce have denied involvement in wrongdoing.

Trabzonspor, runners-up last season, saw their shares surge some 40 percent in the three days to Thursday on speculation the league title could be awarded to them, but they dropped back 7.7 percent on Friday.

Istanbul police have said they seized eight unlicensed guns in this week's raids after a probe launched in December produced evidence of match-fixing in 19 first and second divisions games.

Out of the 61 detained, 35 have been released though it is not clear if any of them could still face charges.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, a Fenerbahce fan and member of its congress, has called for a rapid and just outcome to the investigation, saying the affair was staining the country's image internationally.

Those already jailed pending trial include three Fenerbahce executives, the chairman of Sivasspor, the coach of Eskisehirspor, Sivasspor's goalkeeper and the former chairmen of Diyarbakirspor and Giresunspor.

European football's governing body UEFA has set a deadline of July 15 for confirmation of the team taking part in the third Champions League qualifying round. Trabzonspor would normally take that place as runners-up.

Turkish media have cited allegations in police reports such as a striker being offered money to not score in a game, a goalkeeper deliberately failing to prevent a goal and a club requesting a particular referee for a key derby.

(Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Justin Palmer)

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