TFF Halts All League Matches after Referee Assaulted by Club President

Turkish football authorities have suspended all matches after a referee was assaulted by a club president following a top-tier match on Monday.

Halil Umut Meler was attacked by MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca, who ran onto the field after his team conceded a 97th-minute equalizer in a 1-1 Turkish Super Lig draw with Caykur Rizespor.

“All matches in all leagues have been indefinitely postponed,” said Turkish Football Federation (TFF) chairman Mehmet Buyukeksi during a press conference.

“This attack is a disgraceful night for Turkish football,” he added.

Meler received several blows from others while lying on the ground and sustained injuries, including a minor fracture.

The incident led to chaotic scenes involving players and club officials.

Koca required hospital treatment, but “detention procedures will be carried out after the treatment,” said Turkey’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Ali Yerlikaya.

Yerlikaya added that others had been arrested for their role in the incident, which he “strongly condemned.”

Meler, a 37-year-old referee, is one of Turkey’s top referees, officiating international games for FIFA and being on UEFA’s elite referee list.

He also required hospital treatment, and the chief physician, Dr. Mehmet Yorubulut, stated: “There is no life-threatening situation at the moment. He only has bleeding around his left eye and a small fracture.

“We will monitor our referee until the morning due to head trauma. We will discharge him from the hospital after the necessary examinations in the morning.”

The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, spoke out, saying, “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 mean peace and brotherhood. Sport is incompatible with violence. We will never allow violence to take place in Turkish sports.”

Home club MKE Ankaragucu expressed regret following their president’s actions, stating in a statement: “We are saddened by the incident that took place this evening.

“We apologize to the Turkish football public and the entire sports community for the sad incident that occurred after the Caykur Rizespor match at Eryaman Stadium.”

Caykur Rizespor sent a message of support to Meler and expressed general dismay, stating: “We strongly condemn the undesirable events that occurred after the Ankaragucu match we played today.

“We convey our wishes to the entire referee community, especially the referee of the match, Halil Umut Meler, to get well soon.”

The TFF chose to take decisive action, hoping to make Turkish football a safer environment.

TFF chairman Buyukeksi added: “Football matches are not a war, there is no death at the end. Not all teams can become champions at the same time. We all need to understand this. We invite everyone to take responsibility.

“[Ankaragucu] and its management will be punished most severely.”

He said the penalties will be discussed in relevant decision-making committees starting on Tuesday.

Galatasaray, one of the country’s biggest teams, had earlier called for an emergency meeting to address what they say is a growing issue in Turkish football.z z z z z z z z z z z z

“We must all come together today and act to solve the problems we are a part of,” read a Galatasaray statement.

The Association of Active Football Referees and Observers of Turkey called on all referees not to take the fields, adding: “The violent attack on Meler was not only against our referee Halil Umut Meler but also against the entire referee community.”

The Turkish Super Lig Professional Football Clubs Foundation condemned the attack and said clubs were “ready to take all steps to prevent violent incidents.”