Home » Turkish Super Lig referee punched by club president – and then kicked in the face

Turkish Super Lig referee punched by club president – and then kicked in the face

Umut Meler punched by Faruk Koca following Ankaragucu’s 1-1 draw with Rizespor

A Turkish Super Lig referee has been punched in the head by a club president before being kicked in the face while laying prone on the ground.

Ankaragucu’s 1-1 draw with Rizespor ended in chaotic fashion with the visitors having rescued a point with a dramatic 97th minute equaliser.

Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca stormed the field at the end of the game, with referee Halil Umut Meler stood next to the other match officials, and proceeded to punch the referee in the head. As he fell to the ground clutching his face, Meler was then kicked in the face by another individual.

“I condemn the attack on referee Halil Umut Meler after the MKE Ankaragucu-Caykur Rizespor match played this evening, and I wish him a speedy recovery,” Turkey’s president Recep Erdogan said in a statement relating to the incident.

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

It’s unclear what specifically drew the ire of Koca, who has been issued with a detention order and was himself hospitalised after being attacked for starting the brawl.

Ankaragucu released a statement of their own over the incident, writing: “We are saddened by the incident that took place this evening.

“We apologise to the Turkish football public and the entire sports community for the sad incident that occurred after the Caykur Rizespor match at Eryaman Stadium.”

Riyespor also condemned the attack on Meler, saying in response to the events: “We strongly condemn the undesirable events that occurred after the Ankaragucu match we played today.

“We convey our wishes to the entire referee community, especially the referee of the match, Halil Umut Meler, to get well soon.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has since waded in too, commenting: “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.

“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.”

The game’s equalising goal was scored in the dying embers by Adolfo Gaich, cancelling out Olimpiu Morutan’s strike in the 14th minute, with both sides reduced to 10 men after Ali Sowe and Emirhan Topcu were dismissed in the second half.