Friends now at a premium for Cakir

“A 36-year-old insurance agent from Istanbul knocked United out of Europe.”

Potted biography or witness statement? On the stand was the Daily Telegraph’s Henry Winter. His prose drenched with the hot sweat of injustice, he wrote furiously of a “grand larceny”, of an “unspeakable decision”.

You sense Cuneyt Cakir’s biographical details haven’t been dropped in here and there out of politeness over the last 36 hours. There is no mistaking the vibe. The greenhorn who sent off Nani is younger than Giggsy. A refugee from the cuddly world of risk assessors. Heck, you had us at Turkey, the spiritual home of a nod and a wink and a bag of cash. Still, at least Cakir will be afforded succour in the tender, protective bosom of his homeland.


“The obstacle was the referee. I do not enjoy his games as a coach, and nor did the players,” sniffed Hamza Hamzaoglu, coach of Turkish Super Lig side Akhisar, after Cakir reffed the defeat by Elazigspor last Saturday.

It is, seemingly, a view of Cakir growing legs and planting a foot into Turkey’s chest.

For a time Cakir was the go-to guy for the regular convivial reunions between Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. Last May, he lurked in the bowels of Fenerbahce’s Sukru Saracoglu while police lashed pepper spray into a riot following a goalless draw that gave visitors Gala the title.

Cakir had sent off two and booked many. That kind of officiousness has long been his calling card.

He has brandished 36 yellow cards and three reds in his last eight domestic outings. At the same time, the glamour local ties have rather dried up.

“This season he hasn’t been assigned too many big games,” says Turkish journalist Fatih Ozkan. “The biggest he got was the Super Cup final in August between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.”

In the aftermath, Cakir had to deal with a little more than a round of Cockney applause in his face. Galatasaray’s Engin Baytar did a di Canio and while Cakir stayed on his feet, his assailant landed an 11-match ban.

At least Keith Andrews managed to channel his frustration into an inanimate vessel when Ireland crossed paths with Cakir at Euro 2012. And it was the Turk who, last season, gave Geoff Shreeves the chance to break bad news to Branislav Ivanovic and left John Terry agonising over what he’d wear in Munich.

Cakir belongs to a none-too-select band of officials to have dismissed Mario Balotelli, while Gary Cahill got his marching orders in the Club World Cup final. And at Wembley last September, England’s Steven Gerrard fell foul of the referee when he picked up two yellow cards against Ukraine.

This handful of high-profile incidents involving English clubs has encouraged some persecution complexes to evolve into conspiracy theories, inflamed further yesterday when it emerged that Cakir holds a Twitter account which follows both Real Madrid and Ronaldo. Safe to say the insurance man won’t be getting any retweets from Fergie, should he ever swap the hairdryer for hashtags.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox