Turkey rocked by match-fixing scandal

July 23, 2006

European football could be facing a fresh match-fixing scandal after the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) opened an investigation into claims that Denizlispor offered to pay players to help them avoid relegation.

A report in Friday's Hurriyet newspaper claimed officials from Denizlispor offered to pay three Malatyaspor players to throw a crucial match against Gaziantepspor on the final day of the season.

Malatyaspor lost the game 1-0, suffering relegation as a result.

The TFF has announced it will fully investigate the claims, which have been denied by Denizlispor.

If found guilty, Denizlispor could face relegation while officials involved can be suspended for up to one year.

The club president, Ali Ypek, was suspended for one month by the TFF at the end of the season.

Several weeks before the end of the season, he had told reporters he knew of match-fixing, but when his club avoided the drop, he chose not to speak, and was suspended for making unfounded accusations.

Allegations of match-fixing are not uncommon in Turkey, but following recent events in Italy - where Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio have all been relegated this summer - there is added pressure to ensure the game is clean.

The TFF is eager to resolve the issue by August 4, when the new season is due to kick off.