Turkey’s Süper Lig resumes on Tuesday after a week-long suspension over an on-field attack by a club president on a referee who emerged from hospital on Wednesday with a swollen eye.
At the end of a Super Lig game on Monday, Ankaragucu’s president Faruk Koca walked onto the pitch and punched referee Halil Umut Meler in the face. The referee was then kicked while lying on the pitch covering his head.
The Turkish Football Association immediately suspended all matches and Koca was arrested the next day. The association’s chairman, Mehmet Buyukeksi, said on Wednesday that it had decided to resume league games on December 19. “We will never allow attacks or disproportionate pressure on our referees,” he said. “This incident must become a milestone, a turning point for Turkish football.”
Meler was discharged from a hospital in Ankara on Wednesday with a swollen and dark eye but no other health problems. Buyukeksi said the federation’s disciplinary committee would decide on Ankaragucu’s status on Thursday.
Mehmet Yorubulut, chief physician at Acibadem Hospital, said Meler’s head fracture will heal with time. “The bleeding in Meler’s left eye has almost completely stopped,” he said.
Meler allegedly told police that Koca threatened to kill him during the incident. Koca resigned as president of Ankaragucu and apologized for his behavior: “Nothing can legitimize or explain the violence I committed.”
When the final whistle blew, Koca entered the field and beat Meler after visiting club Rizespor equalized in the 97th minute to secure a 1-1 draw.
The federation said Ankaragucu, its president, club officials and all those guilty of attacking the referee would be “punished in the harshest manner.”