Under-fire ref Cakir no stranger to controversy

The referee who left Sir Alex Ferguson too distraught to speak on Tuesday night has also caused controversy in his home country of Turkey.

Referee Cuneyt Cakir

Cuneyt Cakir's decision to send off Manchester United winger Nani against Real Madrid left the majority of those inside Old Trafford livid, as Ferguson's men were dumped out of the Champions League.

They were 2-1 up on aggregate when Nani received his marching orders for what Cakir perceived to be a high tackle on Alvaro Arbeloa. At the end of the game, they were 3-2 down.

Ferguson's deputy, Mike Phelan, called the decision "amazing" but, according to Turkish journalist Fatih Ozkan, the 36-year-old has never shied away from making a big decision - even to the point where he has been attacked by a player.

"In Turkey, he has easily shown his red card in similar positions (to Nani's)," he told Press Association Sport.

Cakir first officiated in the Turkish league in 2001 and was rated as one of the country's best referees.

UEFA recognition was drip-fed through to him after that and by 2008 he was taking the whistle for UEFA Cup games, with Champions League duties following a season later.

According to Ozkan, though, that is when the problems started, citing the 2012 Super Cup final when he was pushed by Galatasaray's Engin Baytar.

"He was one of the best in recent years, but after he was assigned to European games, he lost his concentration in the Turkish leagues," he said.

"This season he hasn't been assigned too many big games. The biggest he got was the Super Cup final in August between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.

"He made a controversial decision as Fenerbahce scored a goal and Engin Baytar, the Galatasaray player, shoved him and tried to grab him."

Baytar was handed an 11-game suspension after that but, despite not refereeing too many high-profile Turkish fixtures since, Cakir has still been in the news.

Just three days prior to the Nani decision, Cakir hogged the headlines in Turkey for a failure to award a penalty in Akhisar's 1-0 defeat to Elazigspor.

"The obstacle was the referee," Akhisar's manager, Hamza Hamzaoglu, said to reporters after the game.

"I do not enjoy his games as a coach, and nor did the players."

As well as Nani, others playing for British and Irish teams have been sent off by Cakir, who also works in insurance.

He showed a red card to former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli for a studs-up tackle of Dynamo Kiev's Goran Popov in 2011 - his decision vindicated by the Italian's subsequent apology - and also dismissed Chelsea captain John Terry in a Champions League semi-final.

Chelsea beat Barcelona in spite of Terry's kick at Alexis Sanchez, with his initial rage at Cakir's decision later giving way to an apology. He missed Chelsea's final win over Bayern Munich as a result.

This season both England captain Steven Gerrard and Chelsea defender Gary Cahill have taken early baths as a result of Cakir, with the former sent off in for a second booking against Ukraine and the latter for lashing out at Corinthians' Emerson.

Also on the international stage, he showed two yellow cards to the Republic of Ireland's Keith Andrews at Euro 2012, while he is remembered for issuing nine yellow cards but no reds in Spain's semi-final win over Portugal.

"He has a history of making a big impact in the big games he officiated in," Ozkan said.

"This season, though, he has not had the chance as he has had a handful of matches."



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