The Turkish football world was rocked to its foundations on Wednesday as police in 26 provinces were kept busy taking a total of 46 people into custody in relation to a match-fixing scandal in which dozens of matches in various leagues are alleged to have been fiddled.
As we reported back in January, one of the matches alleged to have been fixed was the Istanbul BBS - Genclerbirligi match towards the end of last season. Our goalkeeper at the time, Recep Ozturk, was yesterday arrested in Konya and flown to Istanbul. Others involved in the match that were taken into custody included Istanbul BBS trainer Arif Erdem, their goalkeeper Kenan Hasagic and Taner Gulleri.
Some of the other big names who were questioned yesterday included former Galatasaray player Fatih Aykel, Erman Kılıç of Sivasspor and Kayserispor's Umut Koçin and Durmuş Bayram. Savaş Polat, the man who allegedly the man who transfered the money to the players on the make, was arrested in Antalya.
Whilst most were taken into custody during early morning raids, according to a report in Hurriyet, Istanbul police were watching the televised funeral of former Galatasaray Chairman Ozhan Canaydin when they saw some of the "wanted". They called Bursa police and the unnamed players or trainers or whoever were arrested after the funeral. Seven people are still being sought by The Bill.
The Turkish Football Federation said yesterday that it had made the request for an investigation in August last year and had been co-operating with the Sariyer Prosecutor's Office and the Istanbul Financial Crimes Office throughout the eight-month investigation.
The TFF statement said they had suspicions about three games and that later the investigation was widened after news that German prosecutors were looking into match-fixing in Turkey. A police team then went to Bochum in Germany and came home with lots of translation homework.
All in all quite a story, and we still don't really know very much. The Financial Crimes police weren't saying much yesterday but one thing we do know is that if true quite a few people will end up behind bars. As there is as yet no actual crime on the Turkish law books on match-fixing, Sports Minister Faruk Ozak said yesterday that he would be sending one to the cabinet very soon, those involved are most likely to be prosecuted under anti-organised crime laws.
Oh, and one last thing. Recep Ozturk isn't Ilhan Cavcav's son-in-law (as was reported today in at least one paper) - at least not in a legal sense. As we quoted Cavcav back in January when the allegations against Ozterk first became public. "Keeper Recep is our son-in-law (damat). He's married to the daughter of a close friend of mine."
UPDATE: 4:30pm on Thursday. A total of 56 people have now been helping police with their enquires and six, including Fatih Aykel and Recep Ozturk have both taken to court to probably be charged.
UPDATE: 6:39 pm on Thursday. Fatih Aykel has been charged with fraud and membership of an illegal organisation.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: 11:08 pm on Thursday. Recep Öztürk and Tepecikspor Chairman Temel Eyüpoğlu have now also been charged with fraud and membership of a criminal organisation.
JUST ONE MORE UPDATE: 11:53 pm on Friday. More developments today with 11 more people being charged, bringing the total to 15. Not a lot of detail though and no one really famous.