14 December 2023

Former Turkish club president Faruk Koca given permanent ban for referee attack

14 December 2023

Former MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca has been handed a permanent ban by the Turkish Football Federation for punching referee Halil Umut Meler.

Meler was approached and hit in the face by Koca following Monday night’s Super Lig match between Ankaragucu and Caykur Rizespor.

Koca was subsequently arrested and the TFF, in announcing a host of disciplinary measures on its official website on Thursday night, said the 59-year-old has been banned in response to the incident, which has made headlines across the world.

Meler had sent off one player from each side before Rizespor equalised in the seventh minute of injury time to force a 1-1 draw, with Koca running onto the pitch after the game before hitting the referee, who was then kicked by another person while on the ground.

Meler left hospital on Wednesday after being treated for injuries, including a small fracture under his eye.

The country’s justice minister, Yilmaz Tunc, said on his X account on Tuesday that Koca had been arrested “for injuring and threatening a public servant due to his public duty”. Koca later announced his resignation as president via the Ankaragucu website.

There is no way we can accept anything like that to happen

Matches across all of Turkey’s leagues were suspended following the assault and it has since been confirmed by the TFF – which has also fined Ankaragucu £54,000 and ordered them to play five games behind closed doors among a number of sanctions following the incident – that they will resume next Tuesday.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino condemned the attack on Thursday, telling Sky Sports News: “Enough is enough and this has to stop. I was shocked when I saw the images like everyone else.

“You can be excited at a match and you can feel for a team but there is no way we can accept anything like that to happen.”

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