Turkish Football Plunged into Crisis: Matches Suspended After Referee Assault

Sports | December 12, 2023, Tuesday // 11:33
Bulgaria: Turkish Football Plunged into Crisis: Matches Suspended After Referee Assault

The Turkish Football Federation has suspended matches in all divisions of local football after a club president punched a referee at a local Super League match. Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca entered the pitch after the final whistle and headbutted Halil Umut Meler after his side conceded a 97th-minute equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Rizespor.

"The matches in all divisions have been postponed indefinitely. This attack is a shameful night for Turkish football," said the president of the local federation, Mehmet Buyukeksi.

Supporters of Ankaragucu also entered the pitch and the referee was hit by other people as he fell to the ground. The incident led to clashes on the field, in which the football players also got involved.

"Football matches are not war, there is no death at the end. Not all teams will become champions at the same time. We all need to understand this. We call on everyone to take responsibility. Ankaragucu and its management will be punished most severely," added the president of the federation.

Turkey's Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Faruk Koca, who went to hospital after the match. Others have also been arrested for what happened on the field.

Meler is one of Turkey's leading referees and also officiates UEFA and FIFA international matches. The referee was also taken to hospital.

"There is bleeding around the left eye and a small fracture. We will monitor his condition for a possible head injury. We will discharge him after the necessary tests in the morning," said his doctor.

The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also commented on the situation and wished for a speedy recovery of the referee.

"Sport means peace and brotherhood. Sport is incompatible with violence. We will never allow violence to have a place in Turkish sports," Erdogan said.

Ankaragucu released a statement expressing regret for what happened: "We are saddened by the incident that happened tonight. We apologize to the Turkish football public and the entire sports community for what happened," the club's statement reads.

"Risespor" also published a position in which it condemned the behavior of the president of "Ankaragucu" and wished for a quick recovery of the referee.

Earlier, one of Turkey's leading clubs, Galatasaray, called for a club meeting over the growing problem of violence in football: "We all need to come together and act to solve the problems we are a part of."

The Association of Football Referees called on referees not to officiate matches after the attack on Meler. There was a similar situation in Greece, where the referees announced a boycott of the matches. On Monday, the Greek government banned fans from matches for the next two months.

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Tags: football, Turkish, referee

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