The match between Ankaragucu and Rizespor in the 15th round of the Turkish Super Lig finished in chaos. Immediately after the final whistle the home team’s president Faruk Koca invaded the pitch. He physically assaulted the main referee, Halil Umut Meler by punching him in the face. The incident took place just moments after the conclusion of the match, which ended in a 1-1 draw following a late equalizer by the visiting team.
🚨Chaos in Turkey’s Super Lig match 🚨
The club president of Turkish side Ankaragucu storms onto the field and punches the referee after the opponent scored a 97th minute equalizer 😭
The ref receives a few kicks to the head and leaves the game with a swollen black eye.. pic.twitter.com/3SziAvLbNt
— Mebsi (@MebsiLFC19) December 12, 2023
Despite his exemplary record, Halil Umut Meler became the victim of an unprecedented attack, leaving the football community stunned. The incident unleashed chaos, involving players and club officials invading the pitch. Koca hit Meler in the face and as the referee laid on the ground, he suffered multiple blows from others. The physical aggression resulted in injuries, including a minor fracture, tarnishing the sportsmanship spirit that football strives to uphold. Ironically, Faruk Koca, the president responsible for the assault, had received the Turkish Super Lig’s fair play award in 2022.
The 37-year-old Meler is among the elite group of Turkish referees who officiate in European club tournaments. This season, he has officiated matches in the Europa League. In the previous season, he was trusted with the semi-final in the Conference League between West Ham and AZ Alkmaar.
The assault not only raises concerns about the safety of referees. It also sheds light on the unexpected turn of events in a league that aims to promote fair play. The Turkish football authorities are expected to launch an investigation into the incident, which has marred the reputation of both Ankaragucu and the Turkish Super Lig. An announcement from the domestic football assosiation states that all football leagues in Turkey will be suspended until further notice.