ANKARA, TURKEY (AP) - Hundreds of Fenerbahce fans, angry over match-fixing allegations against their club, invaded the field during a friendly against Ukrainian champion Shakhtar Donetsk, forcing the abandonment of the game.
At a time when the country’s football federation is pondering whether to postpone the start of league play because of the corruption turmoil, Fenerbahce fans _ some wearing masks and T-shirts bearing the picture of jailed club president Aziz Yildirim _ invaded the pitch in the 67th minute of the game Thursday at Fenerbahce’s Sukru Saracoglu stadium.
Media representatives were evacuated from the stadium after being abused by fans who are angry at media coverage of a match-fixing probe that implicated Yildirim and Fenerbahce along with some other club officials and players, newspapers said Friday.
The game came hours after Yildirim said in a letter that he would step down.
On Tuesday, the Turkish Football Federation postponed the Turkish Super Cup final between Fenerbahce and Besiktas because both teams are implicated in the match-fixing probe of 19 first-and second-division games from last season.
Federation president Mehmet Aydinlar said the scheduled league start Aug. 5 would be evaluated. He later said he was personally against an early August start due to hot weather.
The prosecutor’s office in Istanbul has provided the federation with the testimony and related documents of about 30 suspects in the match-fixing probe. Potential sanctions include stripping Fenerbahce of last season’s title and relegating the team to the second division.
Fenerbahce won 16 of 17 league matches in the latter part of the season to come from a distant third place and claim a record 18th title, beating Trabzonspor on goal difference. Now, the club risks losing its league title in the same manner as Italian club Juventus, which was stripped of its 2005 and 2006 Serie A championships because of a similar scandal.
Turkey is the latest country to be affected by a slew of match-fixing and betting scandals around the globe, from South Korea to Zimbabwe.