Turkey referee punched: Head of referee education says Governments must take action

Halil Umut Meler was punched by MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca after his team conceded a 97th-minute equaliser to Caykur Rizespor.

Football cannot keep putting match officials’ “lives at risk” following the “horrific” incident in Istanbul on Monday, says the Turkish Super Lig’s head of referee education Hugh Dallas.

Turkey’s justice minister Yilmaz Tunc said Koca and two others were arrested for “injuring a public official”.

All league games in Turkey have been suspended with immediate effect.

“I’ve never seen a referee at the top level in a top country being assaulted that way,” Dallas told BBC Scotland.

“I think a lot of club presidents, media and others will take a look at themselves today and realise [that] when you whip up that type of mass hysteria regarding refereeing, this is the result.”

Meler, 37, is on Uefa’s elite referee list and took charge of the Champions League tie between Lazio and Celtic last month.

Having been knocked to the ground during the top flight match, he received several kicks as he lay on the turf, suffering injuries including a small facial fracture.

He was pictured on Tuesday lying in a hospital bed with a swollen face and wearing a neck brace.

Mehmet Yorubulut, chief doctor of Acibadem hospital, said Meler had not suffered any brain damage and was likely to be discharged on Wednesday.

During an Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers in 1999, Dallas was struck with a coin thrown from the stands and confronted by several pitch invaders before his house was later vandalised.

But, given Monday’s assault was instigated by a club official, Dallas says the events in Turkey are unique and that action has to be taken “from the top, by governments”.

“There has to be legislation and punishments put in place for clubs, players, owners or whoever when they behave in such a manner because it definitely can’t continue,” he added.

“As we saw last night, it’s putting lives at risk and that’s just not acceptable at all.”


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