EletiofePresident of Turkish soccer club punches official in face...

President of Turkish soccer club punches official in face in wild scene after match

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Ryan Young

Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca punched a referee after a match on Monday night, which led to Turkey's top league suspending all matches.

Ankaragücü president Faruk Koca punched a referee after a match Monday, which led to Turkey’s top league suspending all matches. (Emin Sansar/Anadolu via Getty Images)

A Turkish soccer match fell into chaos Monday after a club president punched an official in the face.

Right after officials blew the whistle on a 1-1 draw between MKE Ankaragücü and Rizepor, Ankaragücü president Faruk Koca ran out and punched referee Halil Umut Meler in the face, knocking him to the ground. Several fans invaded the pitch at the end of the game, too, and Meler was also kicked before he was helped off the field by police.

Absolutely crazy scenes between Ankaragucu’s 1-1 draw with Rizespor.

Halil Umut Meler, stood with his assistants at the final whistle, Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca knocks him out!

Ironically Faruk Koca won the Turkish Super Lig’ fairplay award in 2022 💀#AGvÇRS 🇹🇷 pic.twitter.com/GFb5HW2pOd

— Ali (@RoyMustang786) December 11, 2023

As a result, the Turkish league suspended all games Monday.

“This attack is a night of shame for Turkish football,” TFF chairman Mehmet Buyukeksi said, via the BBC.

“Football matches are not a war. There is no death at the end,” he added. “Not all teams can become champions at the same time. We all need to understand this. We invite everyone to take responsibility. [Ankaragücü] and its managers will be punished most severely.”

Meler, 37, is a top referee in the Turkish league and also works matches for FIFA and UEFA. He was hospitalized after the incident and treated for a small fracture and bleeding around his left eye. He was held overnight as a precaution, a doctor told the BBC.

The incident even led Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to speak out.

“I condemn the attack on referee Halil Umut Meler after the MKE Ankaragücü-Çaykur Rizespor match played this evening, and I wish him a speedy recovery,” Erdogan said, via the BBC. “Sports means peace and brotherhood. Sport is incompatible with violence. We will never allow violence to take place in Turkish sports.”

Ankaragücü are currently 11th in the Turkish league standings, three spots below Rizespor — which scored a game-tying goal in the 97th minute Monday.

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