- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ANKARA, TURKEY (AP) - Turkish prosecutors began questioning 12 suspects among some 60 detained in an alleged match-fixing scandal that has shaken the country’s soccer league and implicated national champion Fenerbahce.

Among a first group of suspects being quizzed by an Istanbul court are Nigerian forward Emmanuel Emenike, goalkeeper Korcan Celikay and Sezer Ozturk, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported Tuesday. The court will decide whether to press charges and order their arrests.

Turkey is the latest country affected by a slew of match-fixing and betting scandals in world soccer. Fenerbahce, which won 16 of its 17 league matches last season, risks having its name tarnished like Italian club Juventus, which was stripped of its 2005 and 2006 Italian league titles.

Turkey has promised to be tough on match-fixing, introducing legislation three months ago to confront hooliganism and cheating in soccer that included a maximum 12-year prison sentence for fixing games.

Turkish Football Federation chairman Mehmet Ali Aydinlar went to court Tuesday to get information investigation. The new season begins Aug. 7.

Police detained 59 people in a sweep Sunday and Monday as part of its investigation into alleged fixing in the Turkish top division last season. They include Fenerbahce President Aziz Yildirim and at least five other club officials. The other suspects were still being questioned by police.

Turkish news reports say the Fenerbahce officials are suspected of bribing rival teams’ players to play badly, or not play at all in games against the Istanbul club that won the Turkish league title in May. Police refused comment on the investigation.

Some newspapers on Tuesday printed grainy photographs, believed to have been leaked by police, allegedly showing Fenerbahce officials meeting rival team officials. The Sabah newspaper also printed excerpts of alleged wiretapped telephone conversations in which club officials are heard talking about deals and one player admitting he “did not play to score goals” in a game against Fenerbahce.

One wiretapped player reportedly called a Muslim scholar asking for advice over whether accepting a $100,000 bribe offered by Fenerbahce would be considered sinful, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.

Emenike, who played for Karabukspor, was reportedly promised a transfer to Fenerbahce in return for not playing in a match against the team _ an allegation Karabukspor has denied. The club said Emenike _ who has since transferred to Fenerbahce _ was injured a week before the game and has a doctor’s certificate to prove it.

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