Referee punched: Turkish league football suspended after club president hits official

Turkish football has been suspended on all league levels after a referee was punched to the ground by a club president following a top-flight game.

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Referee punch in Turkey

It is not the first time such an incident has happened to a referee, but it was rare for an elite league in Europe.

Super Lig suspended after referee punched by club president
Super Lig suspended after referee punched by club president

MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca struck Halil Umut Meler after the president went onto the pitch to confront the match official.

His team conceded a 97th-minute equalizer in a 1-1 Super Lig draw with Caykur Rizespor.

“The matches in all leagues have been postponed indefinitely,” Turkish FA [TFF] chairman Mehmet Buyukeksi said in a news conference.

“This attack is a night of shame for Turkish football,” he added.

Meler received several blows from others as he lay on the turf and suffered injuries including a minor fracture.

The incident sparked chaotic scenes involving players and club officials.

Koca required treatment in a hospital, but “detention procedures will be carried out after the treatment,” said Turkey’s minister of internal affairs, Ali Yerlikaya.

Yerlikaya added others had been arrested for their part in the incident, which he “strongly condemned.”

Meler is one of Turkey’s top referees and officiates international games for Fifa. He is also on Uefa’s elite referee list.

The 37-year-old also required hospital treatment, and the hospital’s chief physician, Dr Mehmet Yorubulut, said: “There is no life threat for the moment. He only has bleeding around his left eye and a small fracture.

“We will [monitor] our referee until the morning due to head trauma. We will discharge him from the hospital after the necessary examinations in the morning.”

The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, spoke out after the shocking scenes.

“I condemn the attack on referee Halil Umut Meler after the MKE Ankaragucu-ร‡aykur Rizespor match played this evening. I wish him a speedy recovery,” he said.

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

Home club MKE Ankaragucu expressed regret following their president’s actions, saying: “We are saddened by the incident that occurred 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.”

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