ISTANBUL, April 30 (Reuters) - Turkish soccer clubs caught trying to fix matches but where the outcome of the game is not affected will no longer face relegation, the football federation said on Monday.
Turkey is still reeling over a major match-fixing investigation in which 93 defendants, including leading soccer officials and players, are being tried in a case which has cast a shadow over the country’s multi-billion dollar league.
Clubs attempting to rig matches but who do not manage to change the game’s result will now face a minimum 12-point penalty but will be allowed to continue playing in their division, Turkish Football Federation (TFF) Chairman Yildirim Demiroren told a news conference.
Previously, all teams involved in match-fixing faced demotion regardless of whether or not the result was affected.
“Everybody was of the same opinion that the penalties regarding attempts to influence results were disproportionate,” Demiroren said following federation meetings over the weekend.
The changes to the disciplinary regulations posted on the federation website also stated that individuals who attempt to fix a match will be barred from playing or working at a club for up to three years.
Individuals who influence the result on the pitch face a lifetime ban.
Monday’s announcement is likely to draw a stern response from European governing body UEFA and will also anger clubs not affected in the scandal, who had already rejected an earlier reform proposal.
A previous TFF chairman and his two deputies resigned in frustration in January over the federation’s failure to agree on how to punish clubs caught up in the scandal. Former Besiktas chairman Demiroren was elected as the new TFF chairman in February.
The scandal erupted last July when police carried out raids against those accused of involvement in rigging 13 matches, including Fenerbahce’s 4-3 victory over Sivasspor which clinched the league championship on the final day of last season.
The indictment names eight clubs, including Fenerbahce, Besiktas and Trabzonspor. Fourteen players are among the defendants.
The TFF has been carrying out its own investigation and Demiroren said 22 separate Super League games had been referred to a higher disciplinary committee. He did not name the individual teams but Turkish media reported 15 separate clubs were involved.
Despite the referrals to the disciplinary committee, Demiroren said the federation did not think any of the results in the top league had been affected, suggesting there would be no relegations.
“The most pleasing point is that attempts to harm the values that make football what it is have not reached a damaging point and have not been reflected on the pitch in any way,” he said.
Aziz Yildirim, chairman of last year’s champions Fenerbahce , is among the defendants and has been accused of being a ring leader.
Yildirim, who is still in custody, denies the charges and says the case was specifically designed to undermine the 18-times domestic champions.
Fenerbahce, who were barred from the Champions League this season due to their alleged involvement in the scandal, dropped a court case last week against UEFA and the TFF over their exclusion from the tournament. (Writing by Ece Toksabay, editing by Jonathon Burch/Mark Meadows)