Home Sports Football Turkey referee punched: Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca arrested after attack

Turkey referee punched: Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca arrested after attack


A Turkish football club president has been arrested after punching a referee following a top-flight game on Monday.

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MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca ran onto the pitch and struck match official Halil Umut Meler after his team conceded a 97th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Caykur Rizespor.

Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said Koca and two others were formally arrested for “injuring a public official”.

All Turkish league football has been suspended following the incident.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino said the incident was “totally unacceptable” and violence had “no place in our sport or society”.

“Without match officials there is no football,” he said. “Referees, players, fans and staff have to be safe and secure to enjoy the game, and I call on the relevant authorities to ensure that this is strictly implemented and respected at all levels.”

Tunc said Koca and two others had been arrested after prosecutors took statements and a judicial control decision had been imposed on three other suspects.

“The investigation is continuing meticulously,” he added.

What happened?

Hosts Ankaragucu had taken an early lead in Monday night’s Super Lig match before they had a player sent off after 50 minutes. Caykur equalised late on after also having a player sent off, and chaotic scenes followed the final whistle.

Having been knocked to the ground, Meler received several blows as he lay on the turf, suffering injuries including a small facial fracture.

He was pictured on Tuesday lying in a hospital bed with a swollen face and wearing a neck brace.

Mehmet Yorubulut, chief doctor of Acibadem hospital, said Meler had not suffered any brain damage and was likely to be discharged on Wednesday.

“The bleeding in Meler’s left eye started to decrease,” said Yorubulut, who added there would be no permanent damage.

Meler, 37, is one of Turkey’s top referees and officiates international games for Fifa. He is also on Uefa’s elite referee list.

Koca, 59, was twice elected to Turkey’s parliament as part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party.

Erdogan spoke to Meler in hospital and said the incident had “saddened and disturbed” him.

He had earlier said: “Sports means peace and brotherhood. Sport is incompatible with violence. We will never allow violence to take place in Turkish sports.”

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