- In a startling turn of events, the Turkish Club President MKE Ankaragucu, Faruk Koca, has been arrested for physically assaulting FIFA-badge referee Halil Umut Meler after a Turkish Super Lig game on Monday night. The incident unfolded in the aftermath of a contentious match that ended in a 1-1 draw between MKE Ankaragucu and Caykur Rizespor.
Turkish Club President Arrested
The game took a dramatic turn when MKE Ankaragucu, the hosts, secured an early lead, only to face a setback with a player being sent off after 50 minutes. Caykur Rizespor capitalized on the numerical advantage, equalizing in the 97th minute, leading to heightened tensions on the field.
As the final whistle blew, chaos erupted, and Koca stormed onto the field, physically assaulting the match referee, Halil Umut Meler. The referee was viciously attacked, suffering multiple blows that left him with a broken nose and cheek. The severity of the assault was evident as Meler was seen wearing a neck brace in a hospital bed on Tuesday with a visibly swollen face.
Chief physician Mehmet Yorubulut assured the public that Meler, who was being treated at Acibadem Hospital, had not sustained any brain damage and was expected to be released on Wednesday. The incident, however, has cast a shadow over the safety and security of referees in football matches.
Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc confirmed that Koca, along with two other individuals, has been arrested on charges of “injuring a public official” based on statements obtained by prosecutors. Additionally, a judicial control order has been imposed on three other suspects linked to the incident.
The repercussions of the assault extend beyond the individual case, prompting the suspension of all games in the Turkish league indefinitely. Justice Minister Tunc emphasized the importance of ensuring the safety of match officials, players, fans, and staff to preserve the integrity and enjoyment of the game.
“Without match officials, there is no football,” Tunc stated. He called on relevant authorities to rigorously implement and uphold safety measures at all levels, underscoring the need for a secure environment for everyone involved in the beautiful game. As investigations unfold, the football community awaits further developments and reflects on the disturbing incident that has marred the spirit of fair play in Turkish football.