Turkey's prime minister, who is tied to Istanbul's Fenerbahce football club defended a decision by the country's football federation to clear his club and 15 others of all charges of involvement in an alleged match-fixing scandal.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is a member of Fenerbahce's general assembly and a former football player said that the federation's decision earlier this week to punish some players and officials but none of the clubs, was appropriate.
"Real persons must be punished and not the institutions because if you punish the institutions, you also punish millions of fans who set their hearts on these institutions,'' Erdogan told reporters at a news conference late on Tuesday.
"Real persons must be punished and not the institutions because if you punish the institutions, you also punish millions of fans who set their hearts on these institutions"
Member of Fenerbahce general assembly Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Sadri Sener, president of Trabzonspor club and Yusuf Reha Alp, a member of the football federation's disciplinary body, however, have expressed concern over the federation's failure to sanction the clubs amid widespread allegations of wrongdoing.
The match fixing scandal debate in Turkey is largely muted as the country bids to host football's 2020 European Championship and ahead of this weekend's title decider between Istanbul rivals, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray.
A total of 93 officials, players and coaches, including the president of defending champion Fenerbahce, are on trial, accused of helping fix matches last season.
The federation's decision on Monday to clear all 16 clubs of involvement could affect the course of the trial, which was relying in part on the federation's guidance.
It was not clear if the federation's decision would satisfy European soccer's governing body, UEFA, which had said it would intervene if the Turkish federation's disciplinary body fails to take any action before a June 1 deadline to register clubs for European competitions.
Fenerbahce were barred from this season's Champions League as a result of the investigation.