For all the luster and prestige that the sport of football carries with it as the world’s most popular sport, it also has a dark side, one that recently reared its ugly head again for all the world to see.
Match-fixing is a sin that falls in the recesses of the unforgivable, and earlier this week, Turkish courts convicted Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildrim to six years and three months in prison on match-fixing charges. The conviction comes one year after Turkish police implicated dozens of suspects on suspicion of match-fixing, eventually charging 93 individuals, including Yildrim, who, in particular, was found to have established a crime ring that fixed six games with monetary offers to a number of players and club officials.
Yet despite the conviction, Turkish courts released the Fenerbahce president and a few other suspects, including Giresunspor President Olgun Peker and Fenerbahce official Ilhan Yuksel Eksioglu after taking into account the time they’ve already spent in prison over the past year. Apparently, there’s an edict from Turkish law that allows the court to free suspects for serving a certain portion of their sentences.
Yildrim has long denied all the accusations meted against him, but that hardly seems relevant now after the Turkish courts handed down the convictions. It is widely expected that he will appeal the decision, but should he fail to do so, there’s a chance that a return behind bars to serve the remainder of their sentence could still happen if the appeals court upholds his conviction.
Match-fixing has been a bane on football for years and it’s become increasingly widespread recently. In the past year alone, a number of leagues in Turkey, Israel, Greece, Finland, and most recently, Italy, have all been tarnished by the same problem.
We can’t properly encapsulate into words how serious this problem is; it’s the kind of black eye that can ruin not only careers, but lives too. In Italy’s case, it’s even come to the point where Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti suggested the banning of football in the country for the next two to three years.
“Maybe it would benefit the development of our citizens to have a total suspension of this game for two or three years,” he said in a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk shortly before Euro 2012 began.
“It’s particularly sad when a world, such as sport, that should express high values is guilty of the most reprehensible ones such as treachery, illegality and deceit.”
We love the sport of football more than some people love their families and to see these kinds of actions from the people we pay good money to root for is beyond saddening.
It’s downright sickening.