TURKEY: UEFA wants to play double jeopardy


George Zimmerman, an American man under the spotlight in recent months, breathed a sigh of relief as six jurors acquitted him on Saturday 14 July 2013. Zimmerman had unquestionably killed a seventeen year-old male named Trayvon Martin using a 9 millimetre handgun. The tragic event immediately conjured images both domestically and abroad of the United States’ racial division which dominated the better part of the 20th century. This was an America in which extreme segregation of white and black Americans was the norm. Martin was black and Zimmerman, despite the usual convention that Hispanic people are categorised separately, is a white man.

The district attorney, the American equivalent of the Commonwealth’s crown prosecutors, will never be able to bring George Zimmerman to court again for second-degree murder. If for any reason another piece of evidence becomes known which implicates Zimmerman in first-degree murder, the 28 year-old can be back in court. But the jury decided Zimmerman was innocent of second-degree murder.

This is a principle of justice known throughout the world as ‘preventing double jeopardy.’ This law is in place in most states around the world to prevent the punishment of people for crimes for which they have already served punishments. This is why judges make decisions after long periods of time; there is one chance to serve a punishment.

UEFA, European football’s governing institution, recently sentenced Istanbul clubs Fenerbahçe SK and Beşiktaş JK to 3 year and 1 year bans, respectively, from all European competitions for which they would otherwise qualify. Both Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş launched appeals immediately and, after holding hearings in Switzerland, UEFA announced that it would give its final decision on 15 July 2013.

The evidence that Beşiktaş fixed the 2011 Turkish Cup final against İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor by bribing then-İBB player İbrahim Akın is questionable at best. The former Beşiktaş player scored a penalty during the course of the match. A penalty is the easiest way to purposely not score and have people believe you. Akın could have easily kicked it wide and collected a large cheque from Beşiktaş JK. Nevertheless, the Eagles will miss out the upcoming Europa League pending the definitive decision by UEFA which is to be released on 15 July.

Fenerbahçe, hailing from the Asian part of Istanbul, have much larger body of evidence against them. Chairman Aziz Yıldırım is thought to have personally fixed matches in the 2010/2011 Süper Lig season. The fact remains, however, that Fenerbahçe missed out on the 2011/2012 UEFA Champions League as a result of their supposed match-fixing. In the midst of the trial of those involved, the Turkish Football Federation decided to let Trabzonspor, the 2nd place team in 2010/2011, participate in the 2011/2012 UEFA Champions League.

Unless new evidence of Fenerbahçe committing a more serious crime is brought up, the Turkish side should not be able to suffer for the same crime twice. The Turkish Football Federation and UEFA should have punished Fenerbahçe together in one trial. The same way Mr. George Zimmerman cannot be tried federally after the State of Florida failed to convict him also means that Fenerbahçe cannot suffer again for crimes for which it has already weathered punishment.

Polish-born British author Joseph Conrad wrote in his short novel The Heart of Darkness that the people of the Congo River interpreted the hissing and heat released by engines on Belgian ships as demons and spirits threatening them to cool down the boilers or else suffer. Michel Platini, president of UEFA, is sailing through the Bosporus, also underestimating the natives there.

The former Juventus phenomenon wants Turkish people to fear the wrath of UEFA and not look at the situation logically. He wants football fans to believe that Aziz Yıldırım started fixing matches in February 2011 and that Yıldırım spent millions of Euro in order to win the league on head-to-head goal difference versus Trabzonspor. Michel Platini, the man who dazzled football fans in the 1980s, also wants the world to believe that the established double jeopardy prevention laws do not apply in this case.

Note: The author is not educated in law and this is only an analysis from a logical perspective.

Yusuf Nasihi

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