ANKARA – The Chairman of the Turkish Football Federation, Yildirim Demiroren – a businessmen who was the former head of Istanbul-based soccer club Besiktas and who also owns Turkey’s biggest media group –, said in a written statement Thursday that he has resigned from his post as head of Turkish soccer to avoid any implication of corruption or conflict of interest on his part.
Demiroren has been under criticism by pundits and politicians alike for possible misconduct as both the head of TFF and Turkey’s only sports betting company, Iddaa, which his corporation Demiroren Holding Group, along with the American gambling products and services company Scientific Games Corporation, took control of on Feb. 13 after a successful tender.
Demiroren’s participation in the bid caused the country’s main opposition party, the People’s Republican Party or CHP, to officially call for Demiroren’s resignation.
“While it is unethical for someone still sitting in the TFF chairmanship to take part in the tender in question, it is clear the position he (Demiroren) holds also provides an advantage to his own firm. It is an absolute scandal for Demiroren to participate in the Iddaa tender,” CHP Parliament Member Ali Mahir Basarir said to local media.
In his statement, Demiroren said that he was resigning from the TFF chairmanship, where he served for seven years, so as not to appear in any way connected to questions of possible corruption in his control of Iddaa and the betting website Misli.com.
Demiroren also thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and others who trusted and supported him during his TFF chairmanship.
In other news, the TFF declared the new manager of the Turkish national team saying, “A 4-year contract is signed with Senol Gunes, beginning from Jun 1st, 2019 and including both the 2020 European Football Championship and 2022 World Cup.”
This is not Gunes’ first time at the reins having also coached the Turkish national team for the 2002 World Cup, at which they finished in third place.
Gunes played the major portion of his professional soccer career as goalkeeper for the Black Sea regional team Trabzonspor, playing for the team from 1972 until 1987, during which he was a key player of a legendary Trabzon team that won six Turkish Super Ligi titles from 1977 to 1984.
Gunes’ most notable managerial achievements to date, besides the national team’s good showing in 2002, was winning two Turkish Super League cups in 2016 and 2017 as the manager of Demiroren’s Besiktas.
As both a player and coach, Gunes has played many classic soccer matches, most of which were against Istanbul based Fenerbahce, the most successful of all Turkish teams with a total of 28 championships to Trabzon’s 6 and Besiktas’ 20 championships respectively.