Racism bombshell

Racism bombshell

Trabzonspor striker Burak Yılmaz (C) intervenes during the altercation between his teammate Zokora (L) and Fener midfielder Emre Belözoğlu.(PHOTO TODAY’S ZAMAN)

April 16, 2012, Monday/ 16:32:00/ OKAN UDO BASSEY

İstanbul -- The Fenerbahçe-Trabzonspor match is over, but the reverberations continue to rumble after Trabzonspor’s Ivory Coast midfielder Alain Didier Zokora Deguy told LİG TV that Fenerbahçe lefty Emre Belözoğlu called him a “n-word” during the match on Sunday.

“I am sad because we lost,” Zokora said after the game. “But what makes me even sadder is Emre’s racist action toward me [on the pitch]. He called me a ‘n-word,’ and I heard this with my own ears,” he noted.

This is a very serious matter as far as FIFA and UEFA are concerned. And it is very saddening because there is no racism in Turkish football since black footballers are not only highly respected in this country, they are deified.

“And I cannot take this lying down because he is on the team with African player Joseph Yobo [of Nigeria] and Moussa Sow [of Guinea]. Your color being white or black should not be an issue because we all go out there and play [football] and make a living by playing football,” Zokora asserted.

“To insult your opponent because of the color of his skin is humiliating, to say the least. As a matter of fact, FIFA and the media have already launched an anti-racism campaign in this sport. And I hope this incident will be a good example for this ongoing campaign. And I really cannot accept this, and it is the first time it has happened to me,” he added.

Emre has admitted that he may have uttered the word but says he does not remember exactly what he said.

“During the heat of the match, we hurled bad words at each other,” Emre said. “He hurled bad words at me, and some bad words may have come out of my mouth. And I may have used that word. It was a stupid word, this I know. But after a little while, he apologized to me and I to him, and we embraced each other after the match.”

“But to bring this matter up again after the match means he [Zokora] has bad intentions. If an apology is necessary, then I apologize to everyone,” Emre asserted.

When Emre was asked by reporters to state categorically whether he actually uttered “n-word,” he said: “I don’t know for sure; it may have [inadvertently] come out of my mouth. He swore at me, and I responded. But I can’t say for sure what came out of my mouth. I admit the mistake I made.”

Cases of racism in football may not be uncommon in Europe, but in Turkey, they are non-existent, and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) may not find a precedent should the Zokora-Emre case be referred to it.

Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor, Emre and Zokora should come together and resolve this matter. For it would be a great injustice to talk about racism in Turkish football or for a Turkish football club to be linked to racism since it just does not exist.

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