Turkish football club president who hospitalised ref DEFENDS himself

Turkish football club president who hospitalised referee DEFENDS himself, saying ‘I only meant to SPIT in his face’ and claiming the official ‘threw himself to the ground’, as he awaits a trial

  • Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca punched referee Halil Umut Meler on Monday
  • Koca has issued a defence of his actions with Meler having been hospitalised 
  • Have you witnessed abuse of referees? Contact [email protected]

MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca has given an astonishing defence of his on-pitch attack on referee Halil Umut Meler by claiming he only meant to spit in the official’s face.

Shocking images showed Koca’s fist connecting with Meler’s cheek beneath his left eye after Monday night’s match between Ankaragucu and Caykur Rizespor in the Turkish Super Lig.

The punch sent Meler to the ground, with others then laying into him with a series of kicks as he curled up on the grass covering his face.

Fans also invaded the pitch after Rizespor scored an equaliser seven minutes into eight minutes of injury time, prompting police to escort the referee to safety.

Koca was one of three people arrested in the aftermath of the incident and appeared in court to defend himself.

MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca has defended his attack on referee Halil Umut Meler

Meler was punched by Koca and kicked in the head on the ground after a match on Monday 

Koca has claimed his initial intention was to spit in the referee’s face after the match 

He claimed his punch did not fracture Meler’s eye-socket and claimed the official threw himself to the ground’

Your browser does not support iframes.

The Ankaragucu president claimed he was not responsible for the fractured eye socket suffered by the official, adding his intent was to spit into the referee’s face.

‘My aim was to react verbally to the referee and spit in his face,’ Koca said, as reported by CNN Turk.

‘At this time, I slapped the referee in the face. The slap I gave did not cause a fracture.

READ MORE: Battered and bruised in a neck brace in hospital, Turkish ref who was punched by team’s president and kicked on the floor is seen for the first time since the incident which fractured his eye socket


‘After the slap I gave, the referee stood for about 5-10 seconds, then threw himself on the ground. 

‘They immediately removed me from the scene because of my heart disease. Other than that, I am not aware of any incident that took place.’

Koca and two others have been placed in pre-trial detention for ‘injuring and threatening a public official’.

Koca, 59, has been the president of Ankaragucu since 2021. He received the Fair Play manager of the month award in October 2022.

Koca told one reporter this year that he could consider running for mayor as the AKP candidate in a closely watched municipal election scheduled for March 31.

Referee Meler has issued a statement after being rushed to hospital saying Koca had threatened his life.

‘Faruk Koca punched me under my left eye and I fell to the ground. While I was on the ground, they kicked my face and other parts of my body many times,’ Meler said in a statement. ‘Faruk Koca told me and my fellow referees: ‘I will finish you’.

‘Addressing me in particular, he said: ‘I will kill you’,’ Meler added.

Meler was pictured in his hospital bed sporting a black eye among other facial injuries, while there are concerns around his neck after multiple people kicked him while he was on the ground. 

Reports from the hospital detail how the bleeding in his left eye has started to decrease and the cheek fracture he sustained will ‘gradually heal’. They also said there is no permanent damage following further facial and neurological tests.

Meler has received a digital visit from Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Meler was pictured for the first time after the incident in hospital after he was punched to the ground and kicked in the face at the end of a match

Koca, 59, has been president of Ankaragucu since 2021, and has considered running for mayor

Mail Sport has launched a campaign to stop the abuse of referees at all levels of the game

Despite being on the receiving end of the attack, Turkish media reported Meler as initially saying ‘Thank you, it’s my fault’ to the police as he exited.

The match featured eight minutes of injury time and a red card for each side, with Rizespor defender Emirhan Topçu being sent off in the 95th minute, two minutes before the equalising goal.

Koca’s actions have been widely condemned both in Turkey and across world football.

The Turkish Football Federation has announced it suspended all league games indefinitely after an emergency meeting held to discuss the violence.

‘This attack is unfortunate and shameful in the name of football,’ federation chief Mehmet Buyukeksi said after the meeting. ‘We say enough is enough,’ he added, insisting that all involved in the violence would be punished.

Buyukeksi also blamed the attack on a culture of contempt toward referees in Turkey.

‘Everyone who has targeted referees and encouraged them to commit crimes is complicit in this despicable attack,’ he said. 

‘The irresponsible statements of club presidents, managers, coaches and television commentators targeting referees have opened the way for this attack.’

A group of players, officials and security guards formed a protective huddle around Meler, who could be seen sporting a swollen eye in the moments shortly after the shocking attack

Meler’s face was seen swollen after the attack on Monday

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also condemned the attack.

‘Sports means peace and brotherhood. The sport is incompatible with violence. We will never allow violence to take place in Turkish sports,’ he wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.


We want to hear from refs who have been abused – or parents who have witnessed atrocious behaviour on the touchline

Email us at: [email protected]

The Turkish interior ministry later released a video showing Erdogan placing a call to Meler in his hospital bed. ‘We are so deeply sorry and we wish you a speedy recovery,’ Erdogan told the injured referee in the clip.

‘I told all our friends, my interior minister, my justice minister and all the other relevant friends to do what is necessary,’ Erdogan said.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the events that took place after the match were ‘totally unacceptable and have no place in our sport or society’.

‘Without match officials there is no football,’ he added. ‘Referees, players, fans and staff have to be safe and secure to enjoy the game, and I call on the relevant authorities to ensure that this is strictly implemented and respected at all levels.’

The scenes were captured from multiple angles by photographers and on the live broadcast of the Turkish Super Lig match – the top flight of Turkish football. 

The match finished 1-1 after Rizespor netted the last-gasp equaliser against Ankaragucu, who had been poised to win the match with an early opening goal.

However, the goal in the 97th minute of the 98-minute match saw the clash conclude in a draw – moments before the shocking twist of violence.

Ankaragucu are reported to have cheered on the attack as a large crowd of players, coaching staff and security were quick to race to the scene and stop the assault, with the shaken Meler eventually helped to his feet. 

Police formed a wall around him so he could escape to safety.

After being led away, he was seen sporting a swollen eye, with Turkish news outlets reporting that as he left the pitch, he said: ‘Thank you, it’s my fault.’

Meler is reported to have since watched the footage back and filed police complaints against everyone involved in the attack. He has also given a statement, according to Turkish media.

They also reported that he had become a father just days ago. 

It is not known when matches in the division will resume. 

Rizespor players leave the field after the incident. The club later posted on X, formerly Twitter

Halil Umut Meler (centre, November 28) is one of Europe’s top referees, and regularly officiates games in the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s premier football competition

A judicial investigation has been launched ‘against those responsible’ for the unprovoked assault, according to Turkey’s Minister of Justice, Yilmaz Tunc. 

Tunc said the Ankara Police Department was tasked with identifying suspects.

Ankaragucu, meanwhile, has issued an apology to football fans for what it called the ‘sad incident’ that unfolded after the match.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, the club said: ‘As MKE Ankaragucu Sports Club, we are saddened by the incident that took place this evening. 

‘We apologise to the Turkish football public and the entire sports community for the sad incident that occurred after the Çaykur Rizespor match at Eryaman Stadium.’ 


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

Your browser does not support iframes.

In its own statement, Rizespor used stronger language, calling for ‘no violence in sports’. The team said: ‘We strongly condemn the undesirable events that occurred after the Ankaragucu match we played today. 

‘We convey our wishes to the entire referee community, especially the referee of the match, Halil Umut Meler, to get well soon.’

Olimpiu Morutan opened the scoring in the 14th minute before drama struck, with hosts Ankaragucu reduced to 10 men after Ali Sowe’s second-half dismissal.

Emirhan Topcu was also sent off for Rizespor in the 95th minute, though the visitors netted a last-gasp equaliser through Adolfo Gaich on the cusp of the final whistle.

Source: Read Full Article