Former England midfielder Kieron Dyer believes he was ‘used’ by Newcastle to defend team-mate Emre Belozoglu from allegations of racism against former Nigeria captain, Joseph Yobo, because he is black.
Emre was charged with using racially aggravated language towards Everton defender Jospeh Yobo during a Premier League match on December 30, 2006.
According to the Daily Mail, Emre was alleged to have called Yobo ‘a f***ing n*****’. Yobo did not hear what Emre said but Tim Howard and Joleon Lescott accused the Turkey midfielder of racist abuse.
He was cleared in March 2007 and Dyer has explained how, in hindsight, he is uncomfortable with how he was used as part of Emre’s defence.
‘There was a time at Newcastle, we played Everton away and we had Emre and there was a massive skirmish with him and Yobo and Joleon Lescott was going f****** ballistic,’ Dyer told The Kick Off.
‘He was saying, “He (Emre) has said something racist about Yobo’, and they were trying to get to him in the tunnel. I’ve never seen Joleon so mad. They reported it to the referee and there was a big, massive FA hearing.
‘Because I was on the pitch and probably because I was black, Newcastle asked me to go as a witness to Emre. I went and I had to tell the truth, which was I didn’t hear anything racist. I told my side of the story.
‘The more I think about that, just from Joleon’s reaction, he wouldn’t go mad for that and knowing what I do now and maturing, I really regret going to that hearing. Even though Emre was on my team, even though I didn’t hear nothing. You don’t have that reaction for nothing.’
When he was asked if he felt he was used by Newcastle, Dyer said: ‘Of course I was. Of course I was. Emre was a team-mate and a friend and I didn’t hear nothing, it wasn’t like I lied on oath for him. I didn’t hear nothing.
‘But knowing what I know and just seeing the reaction, if that had happened the way I am today, seeing Joleon’s reaction and the club asked me to be a witness, I’d say no.’
Emre always fiercely denied the allegations. His agent, Ahmet Bulut, told The Guardian: ‘He is so, so upset because this is the first time in his whole career or life that anything like this has been said about him.
‘He is absolutely distraught but knows these claims are not true.’
Emre was also joined at the hearing by then Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder, chairman Freddy Shepherd, chief operating officer Russell Cushing and team-mate Nicky Butt. Match referee Dermot Gallagher did not hear any racist abuse but was informed of the incident and reported it to the FA.
When he was cleared, a statement from an FA disciplinary commission said: ‘Having heard all the evidence presented, and having regard to the standard of proof agreed with both the FA and Newcastle United, we were not satisfied that the charge was proved.’
As well as the Yobo incident, Emre was also accused of racially abusing Bolton forward El-Hadji Diouf in October 2006.
In March 2007, Emre again faced an allegation of racism, this time from Watford defender Alhassan Bangura.
Later in his career, Emre was given a two-and-a-half-month suspended prison sentence for a racist insult he used against Didier Zokora during a match for Fenerbahce against Trabzonspor in April 2012.
The court said the Fenerbahce midfielder’s act constituted an insult crime of ‘religious, racist, ethnic, sexist or sectarian discrimination’.