February 22, 2010

Eight arrested over match-fixing allegations in Turkey

A Diyarbakır court arrested eight people Monday on accusations of illegal betting and match-fixing, releasing 28 others pending trial.

The 36 people were among 77 taken into custody Friday in an operation led by the Diyarbakır prosecutor’s office. Houses and offices were raid in 13 cities, including Istanbul, Antalya, Muğla and Gaziantep.

Those in custody were accused of organizing illegal online betting on football matches and manipulating some lower division games to maximize profits. The accused include nine professional footballers and a coach.

The court also decided to freeze the assets of 25 people allegedly involved in the organization.

In a written statement, Diyarbakır police said the operations were conducted with the knowledge and cooperation of the Turkish Football Federation, or TFF.

Ömer Bedük, a legal adviser for the TFF, visited Diyarbakır police headquarters on the weekend and said, “I wanted to congratulate and thank police officials on behalf of TFF President Mahmut Özgener.”

He said: “The TFF has been a firm supporter of actions against illegal gambling and match-fixing. We will share our knowledge and legal documents with the prosecutor’s office to speed up the trial process. Match-fixing is a cancer for Turkish football and must be stopped immediately.”

Mehmet Aslan, legal advisor to Spor-Toto, the owner of Turkey’s official betting game, İddaa, urged citizens to gamble legally. “The money that should stay in Turkey goes abroad through illegal gambling. The total amount of illegal gambling in Turkey is estimated at over $1 billion.”

Aslan also said Spor-Toto would apply to become an intervening party in the case.

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