Soccer

Club president punches referee to the ground after Turkish Super Lig match

Referee Halil Umut Meler was knocked to the ground after a Turkish Super Lig game (Mike Egerton/PA)
Referee Halil Umut Meler was knocked to the ground after a Turkish Super Lig game (Mike Egerton/PA) Referee Halil Umut Meler was knocked to the ground after a Turkish Super Lig game (Mike Egerton/PA)

One of Turkey’s top referees was punched to the ground by a club president after a dramatic end to a Super Lig match on Monday.

Halil Umit Meler was approached on the pitch and hit by MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca, sparking chaotic scenes as players and officials joined the melee or tried to intervene.

Meler had sent off one player from each side, then allowed an equaliser for opponents Rizespor in the seventh minute of injury time to force a 1-1 draw.

West Ham United v AZ Alkmaar – Europa Conference League – Semi Final – First Leg – London Stadium
West Ham United v AZ Alkmaar – Europa Conference League – Semi Final – First Leg – London Stadium Halil Umut Meler took charge of West Ham’s UEFA Conference League semi-final against AZ Alkmaar (Mike Egerton/PA)

According to Turkish media, both Meler and Koca were subsequently taken to hospital, with Koca under guard and expected to be detained following treatment.

The incident quickly reached as far as Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan, who was quoted in Turkish media condemning the attack.

“I condemn the attack on referee Halil Umut Meler after the MKE Ankaragucu-Çaykur Rizespor match played this evening, and I wish him a speedy recovery,” said Erdogan.

“Sports means peace and brotherhood. Sports are incompatible with violence. We will never allow violence to take place in Turkish sports.”

The 37-year-old Meler is on UEFA’s elite list and has previously officiated in the UEFA Europa League, as well as taking charge of West Ham’s Conference League semi-final first leg against AZ Alkmaar last season.

Rizespor expressed support for the referee in a statement, saying: “We strongly condemn the undesirable events that occurred after the Ankaragucu match we played today.

“We wish the entire referee community, especially the referee of the match, Halil Umut Meler, to get well soon.”