Meireles denies spitting, homophobic gesture at ref

Meireles denies spitting, homophobic gesture at ref

Meireles denies spitting, homophobic gesture at ref

Fenerbahçe’s Raul Meireles (R) said that his gesture toward referee Özkahya did not have a homophobic subtext. AA photo

Fenerbahçe midfielder Raul Meireles rejected claims yesterday that he made a discriminatory gesture or spat at the referee after being sent off during the derby against Galatasaray on Dec. 16.

The Portuguese was issued a red card for a second bookable offense during his team’s 2-1 defeat to Galatasaray in a Spor Toto Super League derby. However, what Meireles did after being sent off sparked more controversy than the red card itself.

The 29-year-old made a gesture toward ref Halis Özkahya after the card, and media reports claimed that the Portuguese swore and spat at him as well.

“I have never spat at anyone. This is not about football, this is about my personality, and [those claims] are direct assaults to my personality,” Meireles told the club’s official television channel, FB TV, yesterday.
The former Porto, Liverpool and Chelsea star made a hand gesture as well, a pejorative reference to homosexuality in Turkish slang, but the Portuguese man said he had no such intent.

“There are also claims that I made a ‘gay’ gesture, which I did not do,” Meireles said. “I have many gay friends and get along with them very well. I respect them all. [The gesture] was not about homosexuality. It meant that the referee was intimidated and made that decision out of fear.”

A day earlier, Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım claimed that Özkahya did not initially include the spitting and gesture in his post-match report, but later changed it and added them.