By Victor Kanayo
All matches in the entire Turkish football leagues are on hold indefinitely.
This is after a club President identified as Faruk Koca reportedly punched a referee at the end of a Super Lig match on Monday night.
A statement by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) Tuesday, said, “We are following Halil Umut Meler’s health condition closely and wish a speedy recovery to our valuable referee.
“This inhumane and despicable attack was made against all stakeholders of Turkish Football. Everyone who has targeted referees and encouraged crimes against referees is complicit in this despicable crime.
“The irresponsible statements of club presidents, managers, coaches and TV commentators targeting referees have paved the way for this vile attack today.
“In coordination with our state, all criminal proceedings deserved have been initiated against those responsible and instigators of this inhumane attack.
“The responsible club, the club President, its managers and all the criminals who attacked Halil Umut Meler will be punished in the most severe way.
“By the decision of the Turkish Football Federation Board of Directors, matches in all leagues have been postponed indefinitely.”
The TFF has decided to hold an extraordinary meeting following the incident.
Reacting, Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan, who was quoted in Turkish media said, “I condemn the attack on referee Halil Umut Meler after the MKE Ankaragucu-Çaykur Rizespor match played this evening, and I wish him a speedy recovery.
“Sports means peace and brotherhood. Sports are incompatible with violence. We will never allow violence to take place in Turkish sports.”
Moment Koca Went ‘Gaga’
According to reports, Koca, who leads Ankaragucu club, ran onto the pitch and struck official Halil Umut Meler after their top-flight game against Rizespor.
Koca’s side had conceded a 97th-minute equaliser, ensuring Rizespor would stay four points clear of their hosts after the 1-1 draw.
It took special intervention by the Police operatives who rescued him from Ankaragucu fans after they invaded the pitch.
Detained And In Trouble
Already, a detention order has been issued for Koca, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said in a post on X, adding that two people have already been detained as part of a judicial investigation into the incident.
Shortly after the match, Ankaragucu’s official account on X, formerly known as Twitter, issued an apology to the country’s footballing community for the incident and it reads, “As MKE Ankaragücü Sports Club, we are saddened by the incident that took place 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.”
A FIFA referee since 2017, 37-year-old Meler took charge of Lazio’s Champions League group game with Celtic on November 28, 2023.