Turkish football plunged into crisis after a shocking attack on a referee by a club president during a match on December 11th. The incident, which was captured on video, shows Ankaragücü president Faruk Koca punching referee Halil Umut Meler in the face after Meler signaled the end of a match between Ankaragücü and Çaykur Rizespor.
President Attacks Referee After Conceding Late Goal
The attack came after Çaykur Rizespor scored an injury time equalizer in the 97th minute to draw the game at 1-1. Video shows Koca storming onto the pitch to confront Meler immediately after the goal, shouting angrily and throwing a flurry of punches at the referee’s face and head.
Meler was knocked to the ground by the blows as chaos erupted with players and staff rushing in. Koca continued attacking the referee even as he lay on the ground trying to protect himself, landing several kicks to Meler’s head before staff were able to restrain him.
|Çaykur Rizespor equalizes 1-1
|Ankaragücü president Faruk Koca storms pitch and punches referee Halil Umut Meler
|Meler knocked to ground, Koca continues kicking him in head
|Staff/security restrain Koca, Meler led off pitch with injuries
Meler was left with injuries to his face and head, including a suspected fractured eye socket. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
The Turkish Football Federation swiftly handed down an immediate suspension of all league matches in response to the “inhumane” attack.
Long Simmering Tensions Boil Over
While shocking in its raw violence, the incident reflects long-building tensions in Turkish football between referees and club officials.
Ankaragücü was facing relegation to the lower division, and president Koca had harshly criticized referees over recent officiating decisions he felt unfairly penalized his club.
Experts point to an increasingly hostile climate that has seen referees intimidated and threatened as clubs face intense pressure over relegation battles and European spots.
Turkish teams have frequently accused referees of match-fixing, bias, and incompetence over contentious calls. Faruk Koca took this simmering antagonism to the next level with his brutal physical attack.
What Next After Turkish Football Plunged Into Chaos?
The immediate suspension of all Turkish league matches raises uncertainty over how and when play will resume. Some analysts say the season may have to be abandoned entirely.
Koca was detained by police and faces potential criminal charges for assault. He and other Ankaragücü club officials also face heavy sanctions from football authorities.
The reputation of Turkish football is in crisis both domestically and internationally. Western media condemned the “horrifying”, “outrageous” scenes while UEFA will scrutinize Turkey’s competence to host European matches.
Domestically, fans reacted angrily over social media as the attack reinforced perceptions of mismanagement, corruption and disorder in Turkish leagues.
Experts say sweeping reforms will be required to address systemic issues around accountability and violence before trust in referees and the game’s integrity can be restored. Turkish football now faces a long road to regain credibility at home and abroad.
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