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Football | Europe

Raul Meireles © Action Images

Meireles appeals against 11-match ban



Fenerbahce's Portuguese star Raul Meireles appeared before the Turkish Football Federation's appeal commission on Saturday in a bid to overturn his 11 match ban for spitting and making a homophobic gesture at a referee.

After the 90-minute hearing the former Chelsea and Liverpool midfielder left Fenerbahce's vice-president Abdullah Kigili to pass comment.

"There was no spitting," Kigili told news agency Anatolia.

"We showed the latest images to the panel. We think that the Federation's disciplinary commission (PDFK) made their initial decision without seeing all the images."

Meireles will have to wait until next week to find out whether his appeal has been upheld, with the commission waiting to review "images of the incident from every angle".

Based on referee Halis Ozkahya's report the PDFK suspended Meireles for 11 matches and imposed an 8 400 euro fine for "spitting and insulting the referee after his red card" in last Sunday's derby game against Galatasaray.

He has received strong support from his fellow Portuguese internationals.

"The national team's players are entirely convinced that given his character, the man, the player, the colleague and the friend Raul Meireles could not have done what he is accused of," wrote Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Alves, Nani and Pepe in a letter published on the Turkish federation's website.

The 29-year-old midfielder has strongly denied the charges levelled against him.

"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," Meireles said on Friday.

"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.

"The referee's accusations are outrageous and defamatory. I have an eight-year-old child, can you imagine if kids start saying your father spat at a referee?"

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