Fenerbahce banned from Champions League

24 August 2011 07:30

Turkish league winners Fenerbahce were on Wednesday banned from the Champions League this season due to an ongoing match-fixing probe which has ensnared the first division club.

The decision, taken by the Turkish football federation, came just 24 hours before the draw for the group stage of the money-spinning tournament is staged.

"Regarding the heavy disciplinary sanctions both Fenerbahce and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), which means Turkey might encounter, it is decided to ban Fenerbahce Sports Club from the UEFA Champions' League this season," the TFF said in a statement posted on its website.

The decision was made after a warning by UEFA that either Fenerbahce should withdraw from the league or the TFF should ban the club to prevent UEFA starting its own disciplinary investigation, it said.

TFF decided to ban Fenerbahce, after the club refused to "make an important decision like that in this very short time," it said.

The club in a statement posted on its website said the federation asked them to make the decision in less than a day.

Last month, some 30 people were charged and jailed pending trial as part of a probe into match-fixing and bribery in Turkey's first and second divisions.

The president of Fenerbahce, Aziz Yildirim, is the most prominent among the incarcerated suspects, which include also the vice-president and the coach of another Istanbul giant, Besiktas.

The suspects are accused of manipulating 19 games last season, which saw Fenerbahce clinch the title in the last match, outstripping Trabzonspor on goal difference.

The inquiry and arrests have sent shockwaves among fans in football-mad Turkey, amid the prospect of Fenerbahce losing the title.

Source: AFP