Emenike speaks in court before game

Emenike speaks in court before game

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Emenike speaks in court before game

Spartak Moscow forward Emmanuel Emenike arrives at the Çağlayan Courthouse to testify as part of a match-fixing probe. AA photo

Spartak Moscow forward Emmanuel Emenike has arrived in Turkey earlier than his teammates and testified in the country’s long-running match-fixing investigation.

The Nigerian forward came to Turkey to meet Fenerbahçe, his former team, for tonight’s Champions League playoff round second game at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.

Spartak won the first leg in Moscow 2-1 last week.

Emenike, a figure at the center of the rigging case who spent an ill-fated six-week period at Fenerbahçe last summer without having kicked a ball in a match, spent more than six hours at the Çağlayan Courthouse yesterday and defended himself, saying that he was never involved in match-fixing.

An Istanbul prosecutor alleged that as part of the match-fixing case Fenerbahçe officials had fixed their 2010-2011 Super League game against Karabükspor in return for the transfer of Emenike.

Head judge Mehmet Ekinci yesterday asked Emenike if he had received a formal or informal offer from Fenerbahçe before he was to face the Istanbul team as a Karabük player. The Nigerian said he had not received an offer, and that he did not get money from Fenerbahçe before the game.

Emenike, Karabükspor’s top goal-scorer at the time, was left out of the team’s game against Fenerbahçe, citing injury. Fenerbahçe, who was continuing a neck-and-neck race with Trabzonspor that season, won the game 1-0.

Emenike yesterday said he had reports confirming he was unfit to face Fener, while the Karabük club doctor’s report said he could have played through injection.

“The doctor that oversaw me at the hospital said that there was no way I could play,” Emenike said. “Then I contacted the Nigerian national football team coach, and he told me playing with an injection could threaten my career.”

Case delayed

The Nigerian was among the dozens of players and officials who were detained as part of the case. He was released following a few days in custody, after which he requested a transfer and left Turkey for Russia.

The next hearing of the case will be held on Sept. 27, with Ekinci deciding the player does not have to attend the hearings.

Several Fener officials were found guilty of rigging when the judge gave his verdict in May. However, Emenike’s case was separated from the case because he did not attend the hearings.
Apart from the Emenike inquiry, another question that dominated the pre-game talk was whether Fenerbahçe would start with Alex de Souza.

The Brazilian superstar failed to make it to the starting 11 during the team’s first game in Moscow and was left out of the squad to face Kayserispor last weekend with a decision by coach Aykut Kocaman. Kocaman’s decision came in the wake of a tweet with the word “jealousy” the Brazilian posted on his personal account. It has been suggested that he was implying a personal rift with the coach.

De Souza is included in the 18-man squad against Spartak Moscow, but coach Kocaman yesterday said he is not considering the Brazilian as a starter.

“I told Alex that I would not start him [in Moscow] a week ago,” he said at the press conference yesterday. “I don’t know why such a big deal was made out of it.

“I have to make such decisions as the coach of Fenerbahçe,” Kocaman added. “It is heartbreaking to be put in a position facing your own player.”

De Souza, turning 35 next month, has scored 136 goals in 241 games for Fenerbahçe.
Fans cheered in favor of their star during the weekend’s Kayserispor win and Yıldırım told the crowd to “support the players on the pitch.”

Kocaman concluded with saying that playing in front of its home team will be the team’s biggest advantage.

“It will be a hard game, both for us and Spartak Moscow,” Fenerbahçe winger Milos Krasic also said yesterday. “I hope we will win to go through.”