Chelsea legend Mikel John Obi’s current team, Trabzonspor recorded a fantastic 2-1 victory over Fenerbahçe on Saturday, leapfrogging over Victor Moses’s former loan-team into third, and putting them only only three points behind leaders Sivasspor, with a match-in-hand, even!
But the occasion was marred by subsequent racist abuse, which mainly targeted Mikel’s social media accounts. Thousands of abusive messages were apparently sent to the former Chelsea player as well as his family, prompting Trabzonspor, who recently appointed another Chelsea legend, Eddie Newton, as assistant coach, to release a statement condemning the attacks and confirming that they’re pressing criminal charges as well.
“Racism is a shelter for helpless and ignorant. We condemn the racist attacks against our player Obi Mikel after the match against Fenerbahçe and we bring to the public attention that a criminal complaint has been filed against the assailants.”
Racism is a shelter for helpless and ignorant. We condemn the racist attacks against our player Obi Mikel after the match against Fenerbahçe and we bring to the public attention that a criminal complaint has been filed against the assailants. #WeStandwithObi #SayNoToRacism pic.twitter.com/QSOgPI9fZ2— Trabzonspor_en (@Trabzonspor_EN_) February 3, 2020
But that’s not all unfortunately.
Mikel was seemingly targeted by the Fenerbahçe fans due to an incident with Fener captain Emre Belözoğlu after the final whistle, in which the two players had to be separated by teammates. It’s unclear exactly what was said between the two who apparently had a running battle in midfield throughout the match, but Mikel was quoted after the game saying that Emre cursed him and his family out.
“Emre swore at me and my family. It is not possible to accept this.”
-Mikel; source: Haberler via Google Translate
It’s unclear if “swore” is a strong enough (auto-)translation here, as Mikel reportedly “could not calm down” afterwards and Nigerian media believe that an official complaint has already been filed with the Turkish Football Federation since.
Mikel’e ırkçı küfürler eden Emre Belözoğlu kariyerinin son döneminde de yeşil sahaların yüz karası olmayı başardı. Federasyonun normalde 8-11 maç ceza vermesi gereken bu adam tabiiki de ceza almayacak! Sayın Şenol Güneş bu adamı EURO2020’ye götürürsen sana da yazıklar olsun! pic.twitter.com/Ua0xSPsl2W— Radar Spor (@radarspor) February 2, 2020
Unfortunately, this is not the first time for such an incident for either Mikel nor Emre, which makes the latter’s claim that he’s “never had any negative dialogue with any rival” all the more hilarious and sad.
The former Newcastle midfielder was accused of racist abuse no fewer than three times during his three-year spell in the Premier League, all in the span of just four months in fact (December 2006 — March 2007). Watford’s Al Bangura, Bolton’s El-Hadji Diouf, and Everton trio Joseph Yobo, Joleon Lescott, and Tim Howard all reported racist remarks from the Turkey international, but in two of those cases, Emre was cleared by The FA and Diouf eventually decided not to press charges.
Some time later, in 2012, Emre was again accused of racial abuse, this time by Didier Zokora, incidentally also then of Trabzonspor. After a two-year legal process, Emre was actually found guilty for an “insult crime” and sentenced to a 2.5-month suspended prison sentence, making him the first Turkish footballer to ever be found guilty of hateful discrimination. The sentence was suspended however by the courts because, as the BBC reported it, “he had not committed any previous offences of a racist nature, and in the belief that he would not repeat his behaviour”.
It was around that time that Mikel was also involved in a racial abuse case, with Chelsea making a formal complaint against Mark Clattenburg in October 2012, after both Mikel and Ramires reported “inappropriate language” used by the referee against Mikel in a 3-2 home loss to Manchester United. Clattenburg was later cleared on the reasoning that the two Chelsea players misheard “Mikel” as “monkey” due to Clattenburg’s accent, or some such. To add a bit of extra insult, The FA then banned Mikel for three games for verbally abusing Clattenburg, with Mikel’s defense that he only did so in response to the referee’s own (misheard?) abuse falling on deaf ears.
And now, we have this weekend’s incident. It just never stops, does it?