Turkish Football Club’s President Assaults Referee

The leader of one of Turkey’s prominent football clubs, MKE Ankaragucu, has been detained following an altercation with a referee that escalated beyond control. Faruk Koca expressed disagreement with the referee’s calls following his team’s unsuccessful match. The dispute resulted in both individuals being hospitalized, and two supporters were also taken into custody.

On December 11, MKE Ankaragucu, one of the top-division teams in the Turkish capital, competed against Caykur Rizespor in a Super Lig match. In the final minutes, the Ankara team held a one-nil lead, but Rizespor managed to score a leveling goal. In an unfortunate turn of events, the president of Ankaragucu, visibly upset, entered the field to confront referee Halil Umut Meler regarding certain decisions made during the game.

As supporters also breached the pitch, Koca physically assaulted Meler, delivering a punch to the face that caused him to fall to the ground. Subsequently, the referee was subjected to kicks from multiple fans after his fall.

Following the altercation, referee Halil Umut Meler endured a minor skull fracture and was promptly hospitalized. However, he was anticipated to be discharged within a few days. President Koca, who was also hospitalized, reportedly due to concerns about a potential heart attack, faced arrest on charges related to injuring a public official. Two fans involved in kicking Meler were arrested as well, while three others were released but instructed to regularly report to the police.

Shortly after his arrest, Koca resigned from his position as the president of MKE Ankaragucu. Despite denying the allegations of causing harm to Meler, he asserts that the referee provoked him, and he responded by slapping his face. However, video footage of the incident clearly depicts Koca forcefully striking the 37-year-old referee’s face with his fist.

As a response to the incident, the Turkish Football Federation took the measure of suspending all league games. Federation president Mehmet Buyukeksi condemned the attack as “unfortunate and shameful” and pledged that those implicated in the assault would face consequences.

Buyukeksi criticized the prevalent “culture of contempt” towards referees in Turkish football, attributing blame to clubs and TV commentators for turning officials into targets. Meler, in light of the situation, is contemplating leaving his position, evidently feeling unappreciated.




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