ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish authorities on Tuesday arrested the president of a top-flight soccer club after he punched a referee in the face at the end of a match, prompting the Turkish Football Federation to suspend all league games.
MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca attacked referee Halil Umut Meler on the pitch late Monday after the final whistle of a 1-1 draw in a Super Lig game against Caykur Rizespor.
The referee, who fell to the ground, was also kicked in a melee that occurred when fans also invaded the pitch after Rizespor scored a last-minute equalizer.
The federation suspended all league games indefinitely after an emergency meeting was held to discuss the violence.
Meler was hospitalized with a slight fracture near his eye but was not in serious condition. He was expected to be discharged on Wednesday.
Koca, who was considered to be at risk of a heart attack, was also hospitalized overnight. He was ordered arrested pending trial on charges of injuring a public official after questioning by prosecutors, Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc announced on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Two suspects accused of kicking Meler were also arrested while three others were released on condition they report regularly to police.
During his questioning, Koca denied causing any injury, insisting that he merely slapped the referee, according to HaberTurk television. The club president also blamed the incident on Meler, whom he accused of “wrongful decisions” and provocative acts, the station reported, citing unnamed judicial officials.
Soon after his arrest, Koca resigned as Ankaragucu president, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
“This attack is unfortunate and shameful in the name of football,” federation president Mehmet Buyukeksi said after the emergency meeting. AP