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February 24, 2024
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Turkey: Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca arrested over referee punch

A Turkish football club president has been arrested after punching a referee following a top-flight match on Monday.

MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca ran onto the pitch and struck match official Halil Umut Meler after his team conceded a 97th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Caykur Rizespor.

Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said Koca and two others were formally arrested for “injuring a public official”.

All Turkish league football has been suspended.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino said the incident was “totally unacceptable” and violence had “no place in our sport or society”.

“Without match officials there is no football,” he said. “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.”

Tunc said Koca and two others had been arrested after prosecutors took statements and a judicial control decision had been imposed on three other suspects.

“The investigation is continuing meticulously,” he added.

Koca later issued a statement via Ankaragucu saying he had resigned as club president and apologising for his actions.

“No matter how great an injustice or how wrong [the officiating] was, nothing can legitimise or explain the violence that I perpetrated,” he said.

“I apologise to the Turkish refereeing community, the sports public and our nation.”

He added he felt “great embarrassment” for the “grave incident that I caused” but hoped it could help Turkish football address its “culture of violence”.

 

 

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