An irascible and violent scene, reminiscent of a blow from a boxing match, marked the round of the Turkish Championship, which ended this Monday (11).
After his team, Ankaragucu, who played at home and won 1-0 against Rizespor, equalized in the 52nd minute of the second half, president Faruk Koca ran onto the field and threw a right straight at referee Halil’s face. Umut Meler.
Hit on the left cheek, Meler, 37, collapsed in front of an enraged Koca, 59, who only did not continue his aggression because he was restrained by Martin Minchev and Óscar Pinchi, players from the visiting team, and other people who were nearby.
On the ground, the referee was also kicked by unidentified people, possibly top hats from the club from Ankara, the capital of Turkey, who also entered the Eryaman stadium lawn.
A “give it away group”, from both sides (Ankaragucu and Rizespor), intervened and managed to calm things down.
Meler, who despite being stunned, managed to get up, was taken to the locker room, where he received the first medical care, and then to a hospital – he had a bruise under his left eye.
Koca was arrested.
The incident resulted in a statement from the local federation, which decided to interrupt all the championships it organizes, without setting a date for the restart – the next round of the elite division was scheduled to start on Friday (15).
“The Turkish Football Federation has decided to suspend all games in all leagues indefinitely,” the entity published on X (formerly Twitter). “The club [Ankaragucu]the president of the club [Koca]club officials and all those guilty of attacking referee Umut Meler will be punished in the harshest terms possible.”
In the words of the president of the federation, Mehmet Buyukeksi, as reported by TRT, a public radio and TV network, “Turkish football was shamefully beaten tonight. Everyone involved in this incident will pay the price.”
The case came to the attention of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who, according to local media, reprimanded the attackers.
“Sport means peace and brotherhood. Sport is incompatible with violence. I condemn the attack on referee Halil Umut Meler after the Ankaragucu x Rizespor game and wish him a speedy recovery.”
It is the second time this year that Turkey has suspended football. The first lasted about a month, in February and March, due to a strong earthquake that shook the country.
Ankaragucu and Rizespor, the clubs involved in the “punching game”, are second-tier teams, whose primary objective is not to fall.
Rizespor even moved up to the first division this season, after finishing runner-up in the Second Division in 2022/2023. There is a Brazilian in the squad, striker Gustavo Sauer, 30, on loan from Botafogo.
They currently occupy eighth place, 18 points behind Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, who are at the top of the table.
Ankaragucu, 11th place out of 20 participants, with four points less than Rizespor, is one of the most traditional in Turkey.
Founded in 1910, it won the championship once, in 1949.
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