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World News

Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca handed permanent ban for punching referee | World News

today15/12/2023

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The former president of a top division Turkish football club has been handed a permanent ban after punching a referee at the end of a match.

Faruk Koca was arrested after hitting Halil Umut Meler at the end of a Super Lig match on Monday night.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) made the decision to ban the ex-MKE Ankaragucu chief and ruled that the club would pay a two million lira (£54,000) fine.

The team has also been ordered to play five home games without fans as a result of the unrest involving fans and club officials.

Matches in all Turkish football leagues were suspended indefinitely after Koca ran onto the pitch and struck the official after his team conceded a last minute equaliser against opponents Rizespor.

The punch sparked a melee of players and officials either joining the chaos or trying to intervene.

Pic: Anadolu via Getty
Image:
Pic: Anadolu via Getty

As Meler lay on the ground he was also kicked in the head at least once.

Koca subsequently resigned from the club, saying he was “embarrassed” and “saddened” by the incident.

“Nothing can legitimise or explain the violence that I committed,” he said.

Meler was discharged from hospital with a swollen and darkened eye but was not in a serious condition.

During the game he had sent off one player from each side in the Super Lig clash, before allowing the equaliser for Rizespor which forced a 1-1 draw.

Turkish referee Halil Umut Meler leaves from a hospital in Ankara, Turkey
Image:
Halil Umut Meler left the hospital with a swollen eye

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Turkey referee attack: What happened?

Turkey‘s minister of justice Yilmaz Tunc said Koca had been arrested for “injuring and threatening a public servant due to his public duty”.

Two suspects accused of kicking Meler were also arrested. Three others were freed from custody on condition that they report regularly to police.

TFF condemned the attack in a statement, blaming the incident on a toxic culture towards referees fostered by players and club officials over a number of years.

Meanwhile, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: “Enough is enough and this has to stop. I was shocked when I saw the images like everyone else.

“You can be excited at a match and you can feel for a team but there is no way we can accept anything like that to happen. Sadly as Pierluigi Collina also said attacks on referee, verbal and physical, happen in amateur football and professional football.”

Meler, 37, is on UEFA’s elite list and last season took charge of West Ham’s Conference League semi-final first leg against AZ Alkmaar.

Turkey was awarded joint hosting rights for Euro 2032 alongside Italy in October.

The TFF president said he had received assurances from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin that Monday’s incident has not jeopardised that.



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