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Turkish football club president arrested over referee punch

The president of a Turkish football club has been arrested after storming the pitch and punching a referee in the face at the end of a Super Lig match.

Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca has been remanded in custody along with two other suspects after the “shameful” attack on referee Halil Umut Meler.

The country’s justice minister confirmed Koca had been arrested for “injuring a public official” while the Turkish football federation said those guilty of the attack will be “punished in the strongest terms possible”.

All domestic football in Turkey has been suspended following the incident while the violence has been condemned by the country’s president Tayyip Erdogan, as well as FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

Ankaragucu president Koca entered the pitch and hit Meler, who is one of Turkey’s top referees, after opponents Rizespor scored a 97th minute equalizer on Monday night.

Meler was also kicked when he fell to the ground. The referee eventually escaped the melee and made it to the dressing room with the help of the police before he was taken to hospital.

Justice minister Yilmaz Tunc said Koca and two others were formally arrested and prosecutors took statements from them. He also said the investigation is continuing.

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.

A FIFA referee since 2017, 37-year-old Meler took charge of Lazio’s Champions’ League group game with Celtic this season and is one of Turkey’s top officials.

Referees in Turkey are often criticized by club managers and presidents for their decisions and the Turkish football federation said a culture of blaming for referees was to blame for the violence.

Source: Independent

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