Turkish referee

The referee punched by former Ankaragucu president, Faruk Koca, at the end of a Turkish football match has been discharged from the hospital where he was receiving treatment, with a swollen eye

Referee Halil Umut Meler walked out of hospital on Wednesday morning escorted by his doctor, who said Meler is in “good spirits and doing well”.

Meler was hospitalised with a slight fracture near his eye but was not in serious condition.

Koca resigned as the president of Ankaragucu after punching a referee at the end of a Super Lig match on Monday night.

Matches in all Turkish football leagues were suspended indefinitely by the country’s football association after Koca ran onto the pitch and struck Meler following their top-flight game against Rizespor.

On Tuesday, a Turkish court ordered the arrest of Koca and also remanded in custody two other suspects over the violence, the justice minister, Yilmaz Tunc, revealed.

Tunc said Koca and two others were formally arrested for “injuring a public official” after prosecutors took statements from them.

Koca, in a letter confirming his resignation, said: “After the match we played against Çaykur Rizespor last night, due to my attitude towards the referee Halil Umut Meler, who managed the match, Mr. Meler and his family, in particular; I apologise to the Turkish referee community, sports public and our nation.

READ ALSO: Turkish leagues suspended after club president punched referee

“How and why the subject came to this point is independent of the event. No matter how great injustice or wrong it is, nothing can legitimise or explain the violence that I committed, which I definitely did not desire.

“Sports fields should be the venue for gentlemanly competition. Any attitude that casts a shadow on fairplay, including my own, should not be present in stadiums or halls.

“As someone who has always taken constructive initiatives in this direction since the day I became the MKE Ankaragücü Presidency, I feel great embarrassment for having caused the creation of an exactly opposite environment.

“I would like to announce to the public that I have resigned from the MKE Ankaragücü Presidency in order to prevent any further harm to the Ankaragücü club, Ankaragücü fans, the community I am in and my family.

“I hope that this incident, which I, more than anyone else, cannot accept, will be a reason for our sports life, especially our football community, to be purified from mistakes, shortcomings and the culture of violence.

“At the same time, I hope that the structural problems of Turkish football will be discussed more realistically due to this grave incident that I caused.

“I would like to take this opportunity to apologise again to everyone I have upset, especially Ankaragücü fans.

“I would like it to be known that I am deeply saddened that both the club I manage, the football community, and our country are remembered with such an event and image.”

Koca’s side had conceded a 97th-minute equaliser, ensuring Rizespor would stay four points clear of their hosts after the 1-1 draw.

Ankaragucu fans invaded the pitch after the game and Meler was also kicked when he fell, though it was unclear who his assailants were. Meler eventually made it to the dressing room with the help of the police.

Ankaragucu are 11th in the Super Lig on 18 points, three places below Rizespor who have 22 points from 15 matches.

The Star



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