Sports News

Three arrested after club president punches referee during Turkish Super Lig game

Turkish football has been suspended at all levels indefinitely after a referee was assaulted by a club president following a Super Lig match on Monday.

Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca stormed onto the pitch following his side’s 1-1 draw at home to Rizespor and punched referee Halil Umut Meler, while he was also kicked by others after fans invaded the pitch.

Koca and two others have been arrested following the incident, which has quickly gained global attention and scrutiny.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Turkish Football Federation confirmed that all club matches in the country have been suspended indefinitely and condemned the attack on Meler.

“We are following Halil Umut Meler’s health condition closely and wish a speedy recovery to our valuable referee,” the statement read.

“This inhumane and despicable attack was made against all stakeholders of Turkish Football. Everyone who has targeted referees and encouraged crimes against referees is complicit in this despicable crime.

“The irresponsible statements of club presidents, managers, coaches and TV commentators targeting referees have paved the way for this vile attack today.

“In coordination with our state, all criminal proceedings deserved have been initiated against those responsible and instigators of this inhumane attack.

“The responsible club, the club president, its managers and all the criminals who attacked Halil Umut Meler will be punished in the most severe way.

“By the decision of the Turkish Football Federation Board of Directors, matches in all leagues have been postponed indefinitely.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino is among several high-profile figures to comment on the assault.

“There is absolutely no place for violence in football, on or off the field. Events following the Turkish Super Lig match between MKE Ankaragucu and Caykur Rizespor are totally unacceptable and have no place in our sport or society,” Infantino said.

“Without match officials there is no football. 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.”

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