Turkish referee was punched in the face by this football club president

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Professional football in Turky has been suspended indefinitely after a president of a top-flight club threatened to kill a referee.

Football, often revered as the beautiful game, occasionally reveals a darker side marked by incidents of violence and aggression. Referees, in particular, find themselves at the center of the storm, facing the brunt of players' frustrations and fans' ire. Most recently, a president of a top-flight Turkish club allegedly threatened to kill a referee at the end of a match.

A shameful violence

In a shocking incident that has sent shockwaves through Turkish football, Faruk Koca, the president of top-tier soccer club Ankaragucu, was arrested on Tuesday for physically assaulting referee Halil Umut Meler. The violent attack occurred at the end of a Super Lig match against Rizespor on Monday evening, prompting the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) to suspend all leagues indefinitely.

The tumultuous scenes unfolded as the final whistle blew, signaling a 1-1 draw between Ankaragucu and Rizespor at Eryaman Stadium. Koca, incensed by the match's events, entered the field and punched referee Halil Umut Meler, causing him to fall to the ground. The assault did not end there, as other individuals kicked Meler repeatedly in the face and various parts of his body.

Referee Halil Umut Meler, who was also kicked while lying on the pitch, reported to the police that Koca had not only physically attacked him but had also issued threats. Meler revealed:

'Faruk Koca punched me under my left eye; I fell to the ground. While I was on the ground, other people kicked me in the face and other parts of my body many times. Koca said to me and my colleagues, 'I will finish you.' Addressing me, he said, 'I will kill you.'

As of now, Ankaragucu holds the 11th position in the Super Lig standings with 18 points, trailing three places behind Rizespor.

Investigation continues

Following the incident, a Turkish court formally arrested Faruk Koca and two other suspects for 'injuring a public official.' Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc emphasized that the investigation was ongoing and that judicial controls had been imposed on three additional suspects. Koca, however, attempted to justify his actions, claiming, 'My aim was to react verbally to the referee and spit in his face.'

In response to the disgraceful incident, the TFF announced the suspension of all leagues in Turkey, condemning the violence as 'shameful.' President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also expressed his dismay, stating, 'Sports mean peace and brotherhood. Sports are incompatible with violence. We will never allow violence to take place in Turkish sports.'

The repercussions of the attack reverberated beyond Turkey, drawing condemnation from FIFA President Gianni Infantino and UEFA. Infantino labeled the events as 'totally unacceptable' and stressed the importance of ensuring the safety of referees, players, fans, and staff. UEFA urged authorities to take decisive action against those involved in acts of abuse and violence against referees.

Turkish referee punched and kicked by president BSR Agency

Meler, who suffered a swollen face and a neck brace, received medical attention, with doctors indicating that he would likely be discharged without permanent damage. In a call to the hospital, President Erdogan expressed his concern and wished Meler a speedy recovery.

Halil Umut Meler is a Turkish football referee who gained prominence for officiating in top-level football matches, including those in the Turkish Super Lig. Meler is known for his contributions as a referee at both domestic and international levels, having officiated in UEFA competitions since 2017 as well. Notably, he officiated the Champions League group game between Lazio and Celtic on November 28.

In the midst of the recent turmoil in the football world, the incident involving Turkish referee Halil Umut Meler is not the sole disruption. Everton Football Club, a storied Premier League team, is grappling with a significant setback as the league issued a 10-point deduction for financial regulation violations. This penalty has thrown the club into the midst of a challenging relegation battle, placing them at the 19th position. Adding to the somber atmosphere, the football community mourns the untimely passing of rising female star Maddy Cusack at the age of 27.

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