(WFI) Turkish match-fixing proves a hot topic at the UEFA Congress in Istanbul.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter at the UEFA Congress. (Getty Images)
Sepp Blatter addressed delegates Thursday about the problem in general – a growing one, according to the FIFA president – but also alluded to Turkey’s role in what world football’s governing body clearly views as an epidemic.
Super Lig champs Fenerbahce are sitting out this Champions League season due to match-fixing allegations that threw the country’s football federation into chaos last year.
“Are we responsible for all the evils in our world? No. But we must see to it that we stay alert,” Blatter said.
“There is something that is new and concerns the region where we are and that is illegal betting and this leads to match rigging.”
The Swiss also praised the cooperation of UEFA and other confederations with the “early warning system” now used to pick up suspicious betting trends and alert Interpol.
“We are working together against the scourge of match-rigging, which is undermining our sport,” he said. “This makes our sport a matter of chance when matches are being rigged.”
The ongoing probe in Turkey also forced the postponement of this Super Lig season and netted more than 80 footballers, journalists and club officials, including Fenerbahce chairman Aziz Yildirim.
According to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, clubs such as Fenerbahce should not be sanctioned when their players fix matches.
“We must punish the individuals involved, the criminals, and not perhaps entire clubs or communities,” he said today in a speech to the UEFA Congress.
“We have to identify the difference between individuals and legal entities,” Erdogan said at the Istanbul Congress Center. “If a legal entity is punished for the crime of an individual, millions of people would be punished.”
Runners-up Trabzonspor and cup winner Besiktas were also implicated in the Turkish match-fixing scandal.
UEFA, Top Clubs Sign MOU
Also Thursday in Istanbul, the European Club Association reached a renewed Memorandum of Understanding with UEFA that runs through 2018.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Michel Platini sign the MOU. (UEFA)
The MOU increases the share of Euro 2012 revenues reserved
for clubs to $132 million and of Euro 2016 revenues to almost $200 million.
UEFA also agreed to cover the injury risk of players while on national team duty and to allow club representatives a “referral right” on all UEFA decisions affecting club competitions.
“With this agreement, UEFA clearly recognises the importance of clubs and the significant contribution they make to the success of national team football,” ECA president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
UEFA president Michel Platini added: “This demonstrates the excellent working relationship we have with clubs and represents a true success in further strengthening the unity of the football family.”
By INSIDER’s Matthew Grayson
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