Referee Assaulted: Turkish Soccer Club President Resigns After Punching FIFA-licensed Referee in the Face

ANKARA, Turkey – The president of a Turkish soccer club has resigned after an incident in which he punched a FIFA-licensed referee following a match. Faruk Koca, president of Ankaragücü, announced his resignation in a club statement posted on Twitter. This announcement came a day after the incident with the referee, Halil Umut Meler, who claimed that Koca also threatened to kill him.

The referee reported that Koca punched him in the face under his left eye and then fell to the ground, where he was kicked by two others. Photos and videos showed Meler with a swollen left eye and a bag of ice as he walked off the field, surrounded by security with riot shields. The Turkish Football Federation indefinitely postponed matches in all of the country’s leagues following the attack.

The Turkish Minister of Justice confirmed that three individuals, including Koca, had been arrested for the attack on the referee. Koca, however, refuted the claims, stating that he “slapped” Meler in the face and that the incident occurred due to the referee’s wrong decisions and provocative behavior.

The referee was eventually brought to his feet with the help of players and security personnel. The Turkish Football Federation strongly condemned the attack and announced that criminal proceedings have been initiated against those responsible.

Politicians and other soccer clubs have also condemned the attack, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stating that “sports means peace and brotherhood” and that violence has no place in Turkish sports.

The incident has sparked widespread outrage and calls for action to address the growing issue of violence in Turkish football. Ankaragücü and Çaykur Rizespor, the two clubs involved in the match, have both issued apologies for the incident, expressing sadness and calling for the perpetrator to be punished.

The incident has raised concerns about the safety of match officials and the need for measures to ensure the security of referees, players, and fans. Additionally, the incident has prompted calls for a review of the state of Turkish football and a united effort to address the problems within the sport.

The FIFA-licensed referee, Halil Umut Meler, has been involved in officiating since 2017 and has continued to receive support and well-wishes for a speedy recovery following the attack. The incident has brought attention to the need for stricter measures to prevent similar incidents in the future and to ensure the safety and security of all involved in the sport.