Turkey suspends all league games after club president punches referee in the face

A Turkish court on Tuesday ordered the arrest of Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca for punching a referee in the face at the end of a Super Lig match, and also remanded in custody two other suspects over the violence, the justice minister said.

The Turkish Football Federation has suspended all league games in the country after the incident.

MKE Ankaragucu president Koca attacked referee Halil Umut Meler on the pitch late Monday after the final whistle, following a 1-1 draw in a Super Lig game against Caykur Rizespor.

The referee, who fell to the ground, was also kicked in a melee that occurred after fans also invaded the pitch after Rizespor scored a last-minute equalizer.

The federation announced it suspended all league games indefinitely after an emergency meeting held to discuss the violence.

“This attack is unfortunate and shameful in the name of football,” federation chief Mehmet Buyukeksi said after the meeting.

“We say enough is enough,” he added, insisting that all involved in the violence would be punished.

Buyukeksi also blamed the attack on a culture of contempt toward referees in Turkey.

“Everyone who has targeted referees and encouraged them to commit crimes is complicit in this despicable attack,” he said. “The irresponsible statements of club presidents, managers, coaches and television commentators targeting referees have opened the way for this attack.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also condemned the attack.

“Sports means peace and brotherhood. The sport is incompatible with violence. We will never allow violence to take place in Turkish sports,” he wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Koca, who is reported to have heart problems, was hospitalized as a precaution, but would be taken into custody following treatment, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said. Two other people who also attacked Meler on the pitch were detained for questioning, he added.

Meler was hospitalized with a slight fracture near his eye but was not in a serious condition.

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