referee punched in Turkey opens up over incident

Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images

The referee Halil Umut Meler has said he will not forgive Ankaragucu’s president Faruk Koca for punching him in the face at the end of a Turkish Super Lig match last week.

The Turkish Football Federation’s (TFF) disciplinary board imposed a permanent ban on Koca, who entered the field and hit Meler when the final whistle blew after Rizespor scored a 97th-minute equaliser at Ankaragucu’s Eryaman Stadium. Meler was then kicked in the head as he lay on the pitch.

Koca was arrested a day after the incident, with Meler telling police that the official had threatened to kill him. Koca has apologised, saying: “Nothing can legitimise or explain the violence that I committed.”

Meler told the Turkish news daily Hurriyet: “No, I did not forgive [Koca], I will not forgive. The person who did this punched me, I collapsed and fell to the ground. But the actual kicking while I was on the ground will be something I will never forget for the rest of my life.

“That’s why, in conscience, I will never forgive. I will not forgive in any way, I will never forgive those who did it or those who provoked it.”

Turkey’s top league resumed on Tuesday after a one-week suspension. That night Istanbulspor walked off the pitch in an apparent protest at a refereeing decision in their Super Lig game against Trabzonspor.

Also on Tuesday a third-division game between Bursaspor and Diyarbakirspor was marred by a violent brawl between the players and altercations among the fans after the final whistle. The referee responded by sending off three Diyarbakirspor players and two from Bursaspor, the home side.


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