Meireles ban reduced but controversy rages on
AA photoFenerbahçe midfielder Raul Meireles’ 11-match ban was reduced by the arbitration committee of the Turkish Football Federation (TFF).
The decision, which came after Fenerbahçe appealed the initial ban of 11 matches, was announced late Dec. 27.
The report said that it reduced the ban after the committee reviewed five CDs containing footage from the incident on every single camera of Lig TV, the broadcaster of the Super League.
The Portuguese player was sent off for second bookable offense during his team’s 2-1 defeat against Galatasaray on Dec. 16. After the red card, Meireles made a hand gesture and verbally attacked referee Halis Özkahya. However, the referee also added in his report that Meireles spat at him, and although the hand gesture and verbal profanity were apparent in the game footage, the spitting was dubious.
The report said that even though “there could be liquid coming out of Meireles’ mouth” when he was swearing at Özkahya, there was not enough evidence of spitting. As a result, the ban was reduced by seven matches.
The initial ban was announced last week, much to the negative reaction of the Fenerbahçe board. The Istanbul club immediately appealed the ban and Meireles denied spitting at the referee.
There were also claims that the Portuguese player’s hand gesture was a homophobic slur, but Meireles said that this was a gesture claiming that the referee “would not dare” to show a card to a Galatasaray player.
Despite the lifting of the ban, the controversy did not end.
Fenerbahçe announced that it is considering filing a criminal complaint against Halis Özkahya for “defamation.”
On the other hand, Fenerbahçe’s archrival Galatasaray released a statement titled, “Just Another Black Stain On Turkish Football,” condemning the reduction of the ban.
“The…Federation ignored the evidence when it reduced Meireles’ ban to four matches,” a statement released on the club’s website read. “The reduction, which happened in spite of the referee’s reports, was not only a blow to the public conscience, but also one that was struck on refereeing.”
“With this decision the Turkish sports scene was overshadowed by gratuitous decisions, and it was just another stain on Turkish football, which will not be overcome for years,” it added.
Leader Galatasaray holds a six-point advantage over fourth-place Fenerbahçe as the Super League entered a month-long winter break last week.