Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Fenerbahçeboard member Mahmut Uslu and club icon Rıdvan Dilmen in Istanbul on Jan. 1.
The two-hour meeting at the Prime Minister’s office at Dolmabahçe came at a time when political chants dominated Fenerbahçegames.
There were chants calling Erdoğan “thief” in Fenerbahçe’s last home game against Kayserispor last weekend, in a reaction to an ongoing bribery probe, as part of which two ministers’ sons and a state-owned banker is under arrest.
In his post-game commentary, Dilmen, a pundit at the private sports broadcaster NTV, took the time to criticize those who protested Erdoğan.
“Politics and sports should not be mixed,” Dilmen said on Dec. 29. “Some people could get upset with me, but I condemn slogans against our Prime Minister.”
Dilmen also said Erdoğan, a known Fenerbahçe fan, had shown greater service than anybody else following the match-fixing scandal. The former Fenerbahçe forward also called on the club chairman Aziz Yıldırım and Uslu to explain why the slogans had been “unfair” to the Prime Minister.
Yıldırım, along with some other Fenerbahçe officials, was given a prison sentence for his alleged involvement in a match-fixing investigation on the club’s title-winning Super League 2010-2011 campaign. The verdict is still awaiting appeal.
While the case was continuing, the government changed the law regulating the ban on match-fixing, decreasing the total prison sentence on rigging sports games to up to three years. The previous law required five to 12 years for match-fixing.
“You may not like him, or you may not vote for him,” Dilmen said, “But Mr. Prime Minister has been a better Fenerbahçe fan than anybody else and he did not deserve that.”