Meireles handed 11 match ban
Soccer:Fenerbahce midfielder Raul Meireles has been suspended for 11 games after being found guilty of spitting at the referee following his dismissal in the derby clash with Galatasaray.
The Portugal international, who joined Fenerbahce from Chelsea in the summer, was sent-off after collecting a second yellow card in the 2-1 defeat. Referee Halis Ozkahya accused Meireles of not only spitting at him as he challenged the decision but also directing a homosexual gesture in his direction, claims denied by the player.
Meireles said: “I’m really annoyed at being accused of spitting at the referee. I have an eight-year-old child, can you imagine if kids at school start saying your father spat at a referee? This could ruin my reputation in the eyes of my child.
“I have many gay friends who I deeply respect. The hand gesture I made is directed at the referee caving in to the pressure of the home fans. That hand gesture was to tell him he was scared. Look at my hairstyle, what I wear, I’m not a prejudicial person, my hand gesture was in no way, shape or form a homophobic one.
“I don’t know what the hand gesture for calling somebody gay is in Turkey but what I did was entirely based around the referee being a coward and bowing to the pressure. The referee’s accusations are outrageous and defamatory. I will be taking legal action against him to prove my innocence.”
The Turkish Football Federation stood by Ozkahya’s version of events, however. Fenerbahce issued a statement indicating they would appeal, calling the punishment “unfair, unfounded and not acceptable”.