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By ESPN Staff
Jul 24, 2006

Turkish FA launches match-fixing probe

ISTANBUL, July 24 (Reuters) - The Turkish government pledged on Monday to add its weight to investigations by prosecutors and the national football federation (TFF) into match-fixing allegations in the domestic league.

According to media reports, first division club Denizlispor are alleged to have offered to pay three Malatyaspor players to throw a game with Gaziantepspor to help Denizlispor avoid relegation on the last day of the season.

Malatyaspor lost the game 1-0 and were relegated. Denizlispor, who have rejected the claims, ended the season 15th and avoided relegation.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said there was no question of the new season being delayed by the investigations but, even if the claims proved to be false, the Turkish public needed to be reassured on the issue.

'I will ask the inspectorate body at the prime minister's office to conduct work on the match-fixing allegations,' he was quoted as saying by state-run Anatolian news agency.

He also said Turkey needed to establish courts to deal with sporting matters.

'We have asked Italy and other countries with sports courts for their (relevant) laws. We want to learn from their experience,' he told reporters at the opening of a new sports centre in Istanbul.

Earlier this month, Italian Serie A clubs Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio were found guilty of conspiring with referees and linesmen to rig games during the 2004/05 season.

Juventus were stripped of their last two titles and ordered to start next season in Serie B on minus 30 points. Fiorentina and Lazio were also sent down to Serie B with points penalties.

The TFF was set on Monday to appoint former chairman Levent Bicacki to lead its own investigation into the allegations.

'Former chairman Bicakci... known for his independent and trustworthy character... will be asked to head the investigative commission,' the TFF said in a statement.

Denizli prosecutor Selami Hatipoglu had already announced at the weekend that he had decided to open a judicial investigation on the basis of press reports.

'It will investigate whether there was match fixing or threats or payments made. After the probe a decision will be made on whether legal action needs to be taken,' media reports quoted Hatipoglu as saying.