Football: the Turkish championship suspended after the violent attack on a referee on the pitch after a match

Violence is still gaining ground in football

Football: the Turkish championship suspended after the violent attack on a referee on the pitch after a match

Violence is still gaining ground in football. A referee at a match in the Turkish football championship was severely beaten on Monday evening by several men, including the president of the Ankaragücü club, a serious incident which caused the suspension of the first division championship until new order.

According to images broadcast live on television, Ankara club manager Faruk Koca rushed onto the pitch after the match between Ankaragücü and Rizespor before punching the player in the face. referee of the match, Halil Umut Meler. Having fallen to the ground, the referee curled up into a ball to protect himself but was subsequently kicked several times in the head by at least two other men, presumably members of the local team. Rizespor had just equalized (1-1) a few moments earlier in added time on the Ankaragücü field, which had been denied a goal earlier in the match

According to Turkish media, Halil Umut Meler, swollen under his left eye, was transferred to hospital. Quoted by the Turkish state news agency Anadolu, the head doctor of Acibadem Hospital in Ankara, where the referee was transported, announced that the attacked referee suffered from head trauma. “His vital prognosis is not engaged. There is bleeding around the left eye and a small crack there,” detailed Mehmet Yörübulut.

The Minister of the Interior, Ali Yerlikaya, announced on the social network X the arrest of three men, including the president of the Ankaragücü club. The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) has decided to “sine die postponement” of all championship matches in reaction to this incident which raises the specter of violence in Turkish football. “We strongly condemn the inhumane and despicable attack on Halil Umut Meler (…) and wish a speedy recovery to our precious referee,” said the federation.

Right of withdrawal of arbitrators

Proof of the extreme resonance of this act of violence, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reacted. “I condemn the attack on referee Halil Umut Meler. (…) We will never allow violence to interfere in Turkish sport,” he wrote on X.

Denouncing a “black evening” for Turkish football, the Turkish Referees Association called on its members to exercise their right of withdrawal. “We believe, or want to believe, that those responsible for Turkish football and Turkish justice will take all necessary criminal measures,” she wrote in a statement.

“We apologize to the supporters (…) and to the entire sports community for this sad incident,” announced the Ankaragücü club. The AKP, the Islamo-conservative party of President Erdogan, for its part, launched an exclusion procedure against President Faruk Koca, who was twice elected deputy under the party label in 2002 and 2007.

Several European championships (Greece, France, etc.) have recently been shaken by violence, but the attack on a referee by members or managers of a professional club remains extremely rare.

The matches of the Greek football championship will be played behind closed doors until February 12 in an attempt to stem the violence which regularly punctuates this sport, the Greek government announced on Monday.