Angry Fenerbahce fans storm pitch

Things turn ugly at friendly when enraged Fenerbahce fans protest against match-fixing charges against their side.

     Fenerbahce coach Aykut Kocaman has a mammoth task trying to manage a club whose future is uncertain [GETTY] 

    A friendly match between Turkish champions Fenerbahce and Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk was suspended on Thursday after fans stormed the pitch, enraged over match-fixing charges, Anatolia news agency reported.

    The game at Istanbul's Sukru Saracoglu stadium, marred by attacks on the press box and already interrupted once, was suspended in the 67th minute, with the score 0-0, after dozens of fans poured into the pitch, the report said.

    The first two spectators to invade the field wore T-shirts with the picture of Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim, who was charged and jailed earlier this month as part of a probe into match-fixing, with Fenerbahce at the centre of the investigation.

    As soon as the game began, fans had harrassed photographers at the pitch and journalists in the press box, shouting abuse and pelting them with bottles, lighters and coins, forcing most of them to leave the stadium, Anatolia said.

    Ukrainian reporters were also led out after club officials and Fenerbahce coach Aykut Kocaman made futile efforts to soothe the crowd.

    Anger at press 

    A giant poster of Yildirim was then unfurled at the press box.

    Fans vented anger particularly at journalists of the Haberturk daily, which had published pictures of Yildirim in police custody, the report said.

    Some 30 people were charged and jailed pending trial this month as part of a massive investigation into match-fixing and bribery in Turkey's first and second divisions.

    The suspects are accused of manipulating 19 games last season, which saw Fenerbahce clinch the title in the last match, outstripping Trabzonspor on goal difference.

    The inquiry and arrests have sent shockwaves among fans in football-mad Turkey, amid the prospect of Fenerbahce losing the title.

    Last week, Turkish Cup winners Besiktas, also implicated in the probe, returned the trophy to the football federation until cleared.

    Besiktas vice-president Serdal Adali and coach Tayfur Havutcu are also behind bars awaiting trial.

    SOURCE: AFP


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